116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / News / Education / Higher Ed
University of Iowa co-leading updated study on COVID vaccine effectiveness
‘The new study extends our understanding of real-world COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness’
IOWA CITY — Two years ago, University of Iowa Health Care co-led a study researching the benefits of new COVID-19 vaccines — finding them 89 percent to 96 percent effective among those who took two doses.
But a lot has changed since that study’s publication — with individual immunity waning, COVID variants mutating and boosters arriving — prompting UIHC this month to announce it’s working with UCLA on a second version of the “Preventing Emerging Infections through Vaccine Effectiveness Testing” study, called “PREVENT.”
The PREVENT II research — co-led by UI’s Carver College of Medicine and University of California, Los Angeles, with a $13.6 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — aims primarily to evaluate the ongoing effectiveness of vaccines and specifically boosters.
“The new study extends our understanding of real-world COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness in the current phase of the pandemic,” said study co-principal investigator Dr. Nicholas Mohr, UI professor of emergency medicine, anesthesia and epidemiology.
“The world has changed a lot in the last two and a half years, and the ways that we're trying to protect health care workers, and society as a whole, are different, too.”
Secondary goals of the study include:
- Identifying differences in vaccine effectiveness by age and comorbidity.
- Evaluating vaccine effectiveness within health care job categories and settings.
- Comparing the effectiveness of different vaccines, vaccine schedules, and dosing periods.
- Assessing vaccine effectiveness depending on infection history.
- Measuring booster effectiveness.
- Determining how vaccination impacts the prospect for prolonged symptoms.
- Evaluating vaccine effectiveness against emerging variants.
Health care workers to be studied
Given health care workers remain on the front lines of a pandemic still killing hundreds of Americans daily — and are among the easiest groups to study, given well-kept records on vaccination and infection — PREVENT II centers on that sector.
“Health care workers were the first people in the United States who were vaccinated,” Mohr said. “So, following their experience has been really important for the last two years, and it's going to continue to be important.”
Using a larger pool of participants — 15,000-plus health care personnel from 20 academic medical centers coast to coast — researchers aim to understand “how to best protect essential health care workers and apply those lessons to protecting patients, families, and communities,” said study co-principal investigator David Talan, UCLA emergency medicine and infectious diseases professor.
Participating medical centers — which must have high volumes and robust employee testing — dot the country, from Los Angeles to Boston and from Seattle to Miami. The Midwest has three, in Iowa City, Chicago and Kansas City.
Health care workers or volunteers with potential for direct or indirect exposure to patients or infectious materials can participate if they’ve tested COVID positive in the last 60 days — regardless of patient exposure or vaccination status.
Enrollment — involving up to $100 incentives — is expected to continue for nine months.
“At the time of enrollment, we will collect detailed information on vaccinations, symptoms, risk profile, and exposures,” according to a project summary.
Given the mishmash of vaccination variations, PREVENT II researchers updated testing practices to compare vaccine effectiveness between a two-dose vaccine series; two doses plus a booster; two doses and two boosters; and two to three doses plus a “new formulation” targeting novel variants.
“We want to ensure that we are able to detect differences in vaccine effectiveness in these four cohorts,” according to the summary.
Through self-reported data or interviews, researchers will study vaccine and booster protection by monitoring symptoms like fever, cough and shortness of breath.
“The study will compare the vaccination history of participants who test positive and those who test negative for COVID-19, as well as the severity and duration of illness among those who test positive,” according to the study summary.
“The results will help researchers determine how effective the vaccines and boosters are at preventing infection and lessening the impact of infections when they do occur.”
Health care workers interested in participating can visit https://medicine.uiowa.edu/content/how-participate
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
Comments: (319) 339-3158; email@example.com