UW researchers encourage essential workers to participate in COVID-19 prevention study

Generic Coronavirus
Generic Coronavirus(Associated Press)
Published: Mar. 30, 2021 at 8:52 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health researchers are encouraging essential workers Tuesday who cannot work remotely to take part in a study that will look into practices to prevent COVID-19 infections.

Researchers at the school are investigating whether commonly used oral and nasal antiseptics, in addition to wearing a mask and doing proper hand hygiene, can prevent the coronavirus.

Participants in the study can include firefighters, police officers, day care workers, grocery store employees and more.

The Role of Naso-oropharyngeal Antiseptic Decolonization to Reduce COVID-19 Viral Shedding and Disease Transmission study, commonly known as the SHIELD study, launched in the summer of 2020.

Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health and co-principal investigator of the SHIELD study, said health care workers have been at risk for COVID-19, but so are other essential workers.

“Plus, many of these essential workers do not have access to the same PPE healthcare workers have, and they more often encounter people not wearing masks,” Dr. Safdar said. “We think these antiseptic interventions could prevent COVID-19, so we decided to open enrollment to a wider range of at-risk individuals.”

Researchers say while vaccinations are ramping up, the study will help experts learn if these antiseptics can prevent people who do not get vaccinated. The intervention could also help people who have been vaccinated, the school continued, saying vaccines have not always shown equal effectiveness against COVID-19 variants. Leaders of the study believe using these common antiseptics could work against COVID-19 variants.

“If this study shows that the intervention reduces the amount of virus present in participants’ noses and reduces diagnoses of COVID-19, it may also be useful against other respiratory viruses such as influenza or future emerging viruses,” said Dr. Safdar.

The trial will last 10 weeks per participant and they will use a mouthwash four times a day for three weeks. Test participants will also use nasal swabs two times a day.

Participant would then report any COVID-19 symptoms or diagnoses at this time, as well as collect nasal samples.

Researchers believe they will complete the study later this summer.

There are currently 75 people enrolled in the study, but the School of Medicine and Public Health is hoping at least 25 more people enroll. Those who are interested in participating should visit the website, contact research coordinators at, or call (608) 262-6560.

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