A new trial involving 12,000 college students from around 20 universities in the U.S. will focus on COVID-19 vaccines and the impact they have on asymptomatic transmission. The trial, which was detailed by Dr. Anthony Fauci during Friday’s White House COVID-19 briefing, will study whether vaccinated individuals get infected and if they are asymptomatic, how much of the virus is in the noise, and is it then transmitted to close contacts.
The students will be split into two groups, with 6,000 receiving standard doses of the approved Moderna vaccine spaced 28 days apart, and the other group receiving their vaccines four months later. The delayed group will initially serve as the control cohort, Fauci said.
The students will be responsible for completing questionnaires through an electronic app and conducting nasal swab samples daily. They will also periodically be required to produce blood samples.
In addition to the 12,000 students involved in the study, about 25,000 more individuals will be identified by participants as close contacts. The contacts will provide samples to help determine the degree of transmission from vaccinated individuals.
“This will help inform science-based decisions about mask use and about social distancing post-vaccination,” Fauci said.
He predicted that researchers will be able to have enough data to reach conclusions about five months from now. The trial, dubbed Prevent COVID U, is being backed by the National Institutes of Health, and is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).