Top scientists launched a National Institutes of Health-backed study with thousands of college students to determine whether Moderna's COVID vaccine can prevent asymptomatic spread of the virus.
Why it matters: The results of the trial could provide vaccinated individuals insight on how careful they really need to be when in close contact with others.
What they're saying: "This is a question of extreme importance," Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a press briefing on Friday.
- "But the prevailing question is when these people get infected, how often is that? If they’re asymptomatic, how much virus do they have in their nose and do they transmit it to people who are their close contacts?" he added.
The state of play: The study, which launched Thursday, is looking for 12,000 college students to volunteer across 21 campuses, including the University of Maryland, Texas A&M and Indiana University. Students can sign up here.
- Half of the volunteers will be randomly selected to receive Moderna's COVID vaccine right away, while the other half will get their shots four months later.
- Researchers will track the students by having them swab their nose and place the specimen in bar-coded vials for collection. Blood samples will be taken to test for antibodies and be tracked through an app.
- Some student volunteers can get paid almost $1,000 to participate fully.
The bottom line: The results, which are anticipated in September, will be able to equip the public and the federal government with science-based evidence on mask use and social distancing post-vaccination.