COLLEGE STATION, TX — Researchers at Texas A&M are involved in a study to determine if young adults who receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine can still spread the coronavirus.
The study, which launched on Friday, March 26, will follow thousands of college students across the U.S.
Researchers at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center (Texas A&M Health) will help collect data. They hope at least 2,000 students from College Station and Kingsville, between the ages of 18 and 26, will enroll.
“This is an incredible opportunity for students of Texas A&M to be part of something big,” said principal investigator Rebecca Fischer, PhD, MPH, DTM&H, a professor at Texas A&M School of Public Health. “The scientific evidence we build will help answer some of the most important questions the world has at this moment about how vaccines work to prevent infections in a real-world scenario. Through this study, we can start answering these questions in the next few months.”
“The researchers in this study want to learn if the vaccine protects people from getting infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, and if the vaccine prevents individuals from transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others,” said George Udeani, PharmD, DSc, FCP, FCCP, a principal investigator for the study and professor at the Texas A&M Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy. “Answers to these questions will help foster discussions towards science-based policies regarding mask use and physical distancing.”
In total, 12,000 students nationwide will be involved in the study. Half of the participants will receive a Moderna vaccine as soon as they enroll, while the other half will receive a vaccine four months later.
Officials say Texas A&M is the only Texas institution participating in the study.
“University students were selected for the study because of high-density housing, zeal to socialize more and less fear of severe disease. These factors are associated with the high burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection on university campuses,” Udeani said.
Participating students will have to swab their nose daily for COVID-19, complete questionnaires through online diary and periodically provide blood samples. Students will also have to follow additional procedures if they test positive for COVID-19 during the study.
Close contacts to the participant will be invited to join the study. If close contacts agree, they would be asked to answer weekly questionnaires, provide two blood samples and take daily nose swabs for two weeks.
To join the study, students must agree to not get any COVID-19 vaccine until study staff tells them to. Participants will have to undergo a screening process, sign a consent form and complete a questionnaire to determine the eligibility.
Students can receive up to $1,000 for participating in the study.
“What we hope to learn is important scientifically, as we constantly seek to learn more about this coronavirus and how it spreads,” Fischer added. “It will ultimately help guide our understanding of how vaccines can allow us to safely interact with others in a way that feels more normal, including on our campuses.”
Students enrolled Texas A&M and Texas A&M University-Kingsville who are interested in participating can learn more here.