New COVID-19 study uses college students to see if vaccinated people can still spread virus

COVID vaccine AP
Posted at 6:57 AM, Apr 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-28 09:14:23-04

TAMPA, Fla. — College students are helping COVID-19 researchers get answers about the vaccine.

“The students played such a critical role, especially with our second and third surges. How they’ve lived and worked has been extremely interesting to watch,” said Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi, Associate Professor & Epidemiologist for UF Health

The University of Florida is participating in a study that’s being done at 20 college campuses across the country, with thousands of students.

“They’ve been amazingly good at following a lot of instructions, not so good at following some of them. They’ve sort of led some of the surges,” said Cherabuddi

Researchers are trying to answer this question: Can vaccinated people still spread COVID-19 and infect someone who isn’t vaccinated?

“If we know that vaccinations prevent even these younger people from transmitting with their close interactions, with multiple interactions that they have with each other, then we know as a population we are good. That’s why there’s interest in this age group,” said Cherabuddi.

AT UF, the students in the study are getting the Moderna vaccine. Experts are following these students for four months, collecting three blood samples, twice-weekly saliva tests, and daily nasal swabs.

“Because we’re going to check them every single day we’ll know even if there is small amounts of virus shed,” said Cherabuddi.

Another unintended part of this study is getting answers about variants.

“Even though it wasn’t a primary object when we started the study, that has become a major part now as we see these variants come across various parts of the world. We’ll know what effects these vaccines have,” said Cherabuddi.

Researchers say they hope to have the results and get answers to these questions before heading into the fall semester.