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New study will determine if vaccinated people can still spread COVID-19

SALT LAKE CITY — A new national study will determine whether people who have been vaccinated for COVID-19 can still transmit the disease, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced Friday. The five-month study aims to understand how likely it is for someone to become infected with the coronavirus after receiving a vaccination without showing any symptoms, and whether these people can spread it to others. 

The study, Prevent Covid U, will enlist 12,000 college students across the country to participate. Half the students will be vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine right away, while the other half will be inoculated four months later. 

“We hope that within the next five or so months, we’ll be able to answer the very important question about whether vaccinated people get infected asymptomatically,” Fauci said Friday. “And if they do, do they transmit the infection to others?”

The study began Thursday, and will be conducted in part by the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.  By its end, researchers say results will help health officials make future decisions regarding face masks and social distancing more of the country gets vaccinated. 

As college students begin getting shots in their arms, the subjects must keep an electronic diary to track daily nose swabs, blood samples and contract tracing throughout the trial. 

This comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced earlier this month that vaccinated people can meet in small groups without masks — and they can meet with unvaccinated people if they are part of the same household. However, researchers say they hope the study will give more clarity for future decisions.