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University of Kentucky researchers investigating if Moderna vaccine could prevent virus spread

Moderna Vaccine
Posted at 7:51 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 19:51:14-04

Although vaccines reduce the likelihood that a vaccinated person can get COVID-19, researchers note that a positive COVID test is still possible. However, studies show the chance for serious illness is greatly reduced by the vaccine. But what about the chance for transmission?

That's what researchers are unclear on. But they hope a new study will offer clarity on the issue.

PreventCOVIDU is a new study on select university campuses across the US to learn whether the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine stops the spread of the coronavirus. And the University of Kentucky has been selected as one of the sites for the study.

This goal is to figure out if the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine prevents the spread of the virus, not just illness in the person who’s vaccinated.

"The question isn't necessarily to keep safe the individuals who are being vaccinated," said Christopher Simmons, one of the study’s co-investigators. "The question is, are we also keeping safe the unvaccinated individuals around them?"

Researchers say this is an urgent question for the entire world because they still don’t know if vaccinated people can develop asymptomatic infections that allow them to transmit the virus to others. They believe the answer is needed now more than ever as more variants of the virus emerge.

Researchers hope the results will help make more science-based decisions about mask use and social distancing for those who have been vaccinated.

"We all want to go out, enjoy the way life used to be without these masks," said Dr. Richard Greenberg, the principal investigator at UK. "A study like this is going to be incredibly important to make those decisions."

And there's a reason college students are being targeted for this study: their social habits. Researchers believe these students are more likely to be in close contact with many people outside their household. That means they have a higher chance of getting the virus and spreading it.

So, who's eligible? Students aged 18 to 26 who are enrolled in any post-secondary education — including colleges, trade schools, technical schools, and online education — who have not been vaccinated can apply. Around 150 local students, and about 12,000 nationally, will be enrolled in the trial.

Post-secondary students interested in participating can visit to learn more.