The University of Florida will include its students in a study this summer to see how well Moderna’s vaccine prevents transmission.
So far, studies have determined the efficacy of vaccines and shown that they can make COVID-19 symptoms milder.
Dr. Michael Lauzardo, UF Emerging Pathogens Institute deputy director, wants to answer a different question with this new trial: Will vaccines prevent people from spreading the virus to others?
He enters the situation with optimism, saying, “our hypothesis is that [the vaccines] will be protective and that they will not lead to greater spread in these instances.”
Lauzardo awaits the results of the experiment before making a definitive statement.
“We’ve just gotta really understand this better and just really get the data locked down to be sure,” Lauzardo said.
Participants must be UF students between the ages of 18 and 26. They can join as long as they have never had COVID-19 or the vaccine.
Lauzardo says he received approval over the weekend to roll out registration. He said students will be able to register for the study over the phone or through email this week.
About 1,000 participants will be selected for the study. They will get split up randomly into two groups and vaccinated.
Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi is an associate professor in the UF College of Medicine’s Division of Infectious Disease and Global Medicine.
He says the first group of students will receive the vaccine as soon as possible and will be tested over the course of four months. Then, the second group will be vaccinated, and researchers will evaluate transmission rates.
Although the second group would have to wait a few months to get immunized, UF health officials encouraged students to “contribute to science and the historical study.”
Once the study is over, “Protective measures are still going to be required and that’s under our control — the university. And we would require people to still wear the mask and physically distance,” said Cherabuddi.
The participants will receive compensation — around $700 to $900, says Cherabuddi.
All expenses such as compensation for participants and other research costs will be covered by Moderna. Moderna funded the study, which includes other universities such as Texas A&M, Northwestern and Louisiana State.
Cherabuddi is the study’s principal investigator, and he says final conclusions will be made by the end of the year.