UCLA received a $4.9 million grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines among health care workers, the university announced Monday.
Researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine will study both vaccinated and non-vaccinated health care workers from 16 medical centers who get tested for the virus after experiencing common COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough or a loss of sense of taste or smell.
Though researchers expect to gather data over the course of a year, some results will be available very soon, according to Dr. David Talan, a professor of emergency medicine and infectious diseases at UCLA who will co-lead the trial with Dr. Nicholas Mohr, a professor of emergency medicine, anesthesia and epidemiology at the University of Iowa's Carver College of Medicine.
The research will compare the incidence of positive COVID-19 tests within both groups, as well as the severity of the illness in those who test positive.
Results are expected to help determine how effective the vaccines are at both preventing infection and lessening the impact of the virus when infection does occur.
Talan said gathering results from doctors and nurses whom the public knows and trusts should provide more certainty for those who are still wary about getting vaccinated.
"Health care workers all across the world have stepped up to meet the overwhelming needs of patients, families and communities during the pandemic and have been prioritized to be the first offered the COVID-19 vaccine,'' Talan said. "We have an obligation to learn as much as we can about the vaccines' effectiveness and safety."
An estimated 10,000 people, including health care personnel at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, are expected to enroll in the study. The medical center at UC San Francisco is also among those in the participating network, which includes facilities ranging from Miami to Seattle.
Mohr agreed that the results would have broad application.
"We are entering an important next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic," Mohr said. "Studying the experiences of health care personnel will give us insights into how we can protect both health care workers and the general public once vaccines are more widely available."
Olive View-UCLA health care personnel who have been tested for COVID-19 and are interested in taking part can take a survey here.