USF needs unvaccinated participants for new study on COVID transmission

If you are not planning to get the COVID-19 vaccine, or just have not gotten around to it yet, researchers at USF Health can use your help. The university is taking part in a nationwide study evaluating infection and transmission of coronavirus in people ages 18 through 29.

The 18 through 29 age group has the lowest vaccination rates among adults, and when infected with COVID-19 are more likely not to show any symptoms.

"I think we need to understand how the virus is transmitted, what changes about it so that we can be instead of playing catch up like we are now, be ahead of it," said Dr. Kami Kim, USF Division Director of Infectious Disease and International Medicine. 

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Kim is the Principal Investigator for the 'Prevent COVID U' study at USF Health, one of about 50 sites across the country taking part in the research.  It is designed to test how well the Moderna vaccine prevents a coronavirus infection and reduces transmission of COVID-19.

"I think the virus so far has been smarter than we have, even though we've done pretty well," Kim said.

To sign up you must be unvaccinated and never had a positive coronavirus test.

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Participants will be divided into two groups, people who receive the Moderna vaccine right away or delayed by a few months, and people who choose to remain unvaccinated. By comparing infection and transmission rates between the groups, researchers hope to learn critical information.

"Is the virus really, really infectious? Does having one dose or two doses make it less likely to be infectious? Just how bad is it? Does it correlate with symptoms," explained Kim.

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Taking part is about a four-month commitment. Participants will need to do daily nasal swabs, have blood drawn, do questionnaires, and flag people they are in regular close contact with.

"We'll get some very interesting and important scientific information," Kim said. "We'll be able to publicize the importance of vaccines to this younger demographic."

USF Health is looking for about 200 people locally to take part, and enrollment has already started. Volunteers will be compensated for their time.

To learn more or participate, visit https://preventcovidu.org/.