Can you transmit COVID if you’re vaccinated? Local researchers enlist college students to find out

SEATTLE — A study is underway to find out if you can contract and transmit COVID-19 once you’ve been fully vaccinated.

The trial, called Prevent COVID U (https://preventcovidu.org/), will enroll 12,000 college students from across the country. At the University of Washington, they look to enroll 500-600 students.

Half of the students will be vaccinated right away, while the other half will be vaccinated four months later.

“The reason for this is so we can directly compare, between a group of unvaccinated people and vaccinated people, the effect of vaccine on acquisition of SARS-CoV-2,” said Dr. Elizabeth Brown, a study leader at Fred Hutch.

Participants will swab their noses every day. If they test positive, their closest contacts enrolled in the trial will also swab their noses too.

“We’ll be able to see, okay, here’s your three people you’ve been really close to in the last week when you acquired infection, and in the period soon after, did they become infected? Were you able to transmit to them or not?” explained Brown.

The study will last for five months. Researchers chose college campuses because they are relatively closed populations and have seen spikes in cases.At the University of Washington, they will have students get tested twice a week at the Husky Coronavirus Testing Program.

“When they’re coming in in person, that’s when we’re asking them to bring in the swabs they collected at home, and we’ll send them off to be tested,” said Dr. Amanda Casto, Allergy and Infectious Diseases, UW Medicine. “The daily swabs are very important, even if the Husky Testing Program is the first program to detect their infection. We can go back and test those swabs from earlier days to find out exactly when they developed the infection.”

Researchers at the University of Washington plan to email students who are currently participating in the Husky Coronavirus Testing Program next week to see if they are interesting in enrolling in the trial.