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Do vaccinated people spread COVID-19? Study with college students aims to find out

700 CU students to take part in nationwide study
Do vaccinated people spread COVID-19? Study with college students aims to find out
Posted at 5:48 AM, Apr 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-01 09:17:36-04

BOULDER, Colo. — The CDC says it now has real world data showing the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are already making a difference, but there are many questions about whether or not vaccinated people can still spread the coronavirus. News5 is learning about how Colorado researchers and college students hope to help get some answers.

A recent CDC study of 4,000 frontline workers shows two covid shots, followed by two full weeks for them to take effect, nearly zeroed out all detectable infections, including asymptomatic ones. This is huge because it could mean vaccinated people don't carry or spread coronavirus, but more research needs to be done to know for sure.

That's where this new clinical trial comes in, focusing on college students who are vaccinated and the spread of coronavirus. 21 universities around the country, including the University of Colorado Boulder will participate in the trial. Half of the students in the study are being given the Moderna vaccine immediately and the other half will get it 4 months later. They'll be swabbing their noses every day for 4 months for infection and providing blood samples. News5 spoke with one of the experts at CU helping to facilitate this study and he says college students are the perfect group to test for answers.

"With college students, just by the nature of being on campus, or living in a dorm, or going to class they will congregate more. One could argue they will socialize more, so determining whether it reduces transmission on college campuses is going to be very, very important," said CU Professor of Integrative Physiology Chris DeSouza.

RELATED: Colorado to open vaccinations to all 16 years and older on April 2

Olivia Parsons and Chase Willie are two of 12,000 students across the u.s. between 18 and 26 years old taking part in this important study.

"I think the research that they are doing is going to be very beneficial for people in the future and if the coronavirus is something that's going to be persistent and possible a yearly thing like the flu, I think their research is going to be very important," said Parsons.

"We are kind of unsure if we can go out and see people, we're kind of unsure if we should go and see family. It's just always a thing in the back of your head. It's a little uncomfortable no matter where you go and I think that's been the biggest impact. Everyday life is just different and I'm ready to be back where I don't have to have those questions playing in the back of my head," said Willie.

CU plans to enroll 700 students in the trial which is expected to provide results and new data by sometime this fall or early winter.

So what will this study do for the rest of us who aren't college students? It will likely help shape mask policies and requirements for social distancing for our state and communities.

Student volunteers are still needed in the study. You can learn more by emailing,