UF working with other universities on COVID-19 asymptomatic spread study on campus

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Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -The University of Florida is joining 22 other universities nationwide in a COVID-19 spread study.

Around 1,000 UF students are being asked to volunteer to be vaccinated and then tested daily for the virus. Then to help determine asymptomatic spread, their closest contacts will also be tested on a regular basis.

Dr. Michael Lauzardo, The deputy director of UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, said that asymptomatic spread is one of the biggest question marks about the vaccines in distribution right now.

“The question of whether or not you can get asymptomatic, what we call asymptomatic infection, and still spread has still not been definitively answered,” said Lauzardo. “And since people in their 20′s 30′s and 40′s are responsible for the vast majority of transmission or spread of the infection, understanding that in a college population is going toe very, very important.”

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UF undergraduate and graduate students between the ages of 18 and 36 who have not contracted COVID-19 are eligible for the study. On top of getting access to the vaccine, anywhere from $700 to $900 will be given to those participating. Dr. Kartik Cherabuddi, an associate professor at UF’s College of Medicine division of infectious diseases and global medicine, feels that being a part of a historic study should be enough of a push to volunteer.

“We are essentially looking for highly motivated students who want to contribute to science and are very forward and really play a big role in how we get the evidence for planning to move to normalcy.”

The study is supposed to kick-off on Apr. 5. The group of volunteers will be halved based on the number of participants. The first half will receive the vaccine in April and the second group will receive it two months later.

Enrollment will begin later this week with information being sent out via email to the university’s student body.

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