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University of Arizona Health Sciences researching effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccine

Posted at 6:47 AM, Mar 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 20:26:01-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Around 3,000 Arizonans are participating in a COVID-19 study run out of the University of Arizona Health Sciences. It is titled the "Arizona Healthcare, Emergency Response, and Other Essential Workers Surveillance Study" or "AZ HEROES." AZ HEROES is led by Jeff Burgess, an associate dean for research and professor at the University of Arizona Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health.

"AZ Heroes started in June 2020. It was a response to concern about COVID-19 exposure in healthcare workers, first responders and other essential workers."

Burgess said while specifics are not ready for full release, his team has discovered that certain groups are at higher risk for COVID-19 than others.

"That's important because if you're in one of the groups that's at higher risk, you need to be thinking even more about how to protect yourself better," said Burgess.

Burgess said around 60% of participants in AZ HEROES have been vaccinated for COVID-19. Now, it's the goal of researchers to find out how well the shots work.

"We're able to compare how often people who are vaccinated get COVID-19, as compared to people who aren't vaccinated," said Burgess.

Participants collect a nasal swab weekly, send it to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) lab where it is tested for SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19.

"For the people who do get COVID-19 after being vaccinated, why is that? What is it about them that is different? How can we use that to improve our recommendations about vaccination?," said Burgess.

AZ HEROES plans to continue their study through June 2022. Burgess said they hope to release their first round of results in the next few months.

To learn more about participating in AZ HEROES, click here.