University participates in national COVID-19 vaccination study


Abe Baali

The OSF Healthcare Heart of Mary Medical Center sits quietly at 1400 W. Park St. in Urbana on Saturday. The University is participating in a study to examine the effectiveness of vaccines and the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

By Royal Shrestha, Staff Writer

The University is participating in a national COVID-19 research study that is studying the effectiveness of vaccines and virus spreading.
The University is forming a partnership with 20 other universities across the nation in which about 12,000 students will be involved in the study. The study wants to address the question of how the virus can be transmitted in a population of vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Joanna Shisler, professor in LAS who is currently leading this study, said “What we’re not sure about yet is if people who received this vaccine can still shed virus and spread the virus to other vaccinated people.”
In addition, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District and the OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center will partner with the University to help collect samples and provide the vaccines. These studies have already begun and are still recruiting more potential students to participate.
Students will be reimbursed for participating in this study, up to a maximum of $900. Participants will be required to take nasal swabs each day and turn them in at the end of each week, along with occasional blood tests.
To make it more convenient for the student, students will be able to turn in their samples when they arrive at their testing site located on campus. Students will have a chance to be paid based on how frequently they do nasal swabs, visit clinics located at the I-Hotel to get their blood drawn and keep track of their daily symptoms, according to Shisler.
“Students are welcome to join if they are between the ages of 18 and 26 and if they have previously never tested positive for COVID-19,” Shisler said. “Students will also be required to be near campus to turn in their daily swabs along with using an app to track any symptoms.”
Students will be separated into two groups where one group will receive the Moderna vaccine as soon as possible, and the other will receive it halfway during the study. Students who have already received the vaccine are still welcome to join the study.
“This study is a win-win, as it helps researchers learn more about virus transmission, and it also is a nice way for students to earn some extra cash for five to 10 minutes of work each day.” Anthony Herrera,  sophomore in LAS, taking part in this study said.
Herrera will be staying over the summer for schoolwork and will be required to do twice-a-week testing. He explained that the daily process of nasal swabbing along with keeping track of symptoms would only take a few extra minutes a day, and it would allow him to pay for his rent.
This study will conclude in five months for all the universities participating, and the results will help the National Institute of Health with future planning, according to Shisler.

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