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University Hospitals receives $12.5 million CDC grant for COVID, flu vaccine research

The money will allow UH to help test how vaccines work in 'real-world' settings and not just in clinical trials.

CLEVELAND — University Hospitals is set to receive $12.5 million in grant money for COVID-19 and flu vaccine research.

The U.S. Flu Vaccine Effectiveness Network awarded the money along with the potential for $8 million more through September 2027. UH will be one of seven institutions in the country (and the only one in Ohio) that will serve as a testing and vaccination site.

Under the terms of the partnership, UH will be able to test for COVID, influenza, and other respiratory illnesses associated with vaccines. The grant then allows UH to partner with the Vaccine Effectiveness Network to give estimate and research for the effectiveness of licensed vaccines based on a patient's age and the strain they have.

UH Director of Infection Control Dr. Elie Saade says the goal is to try to gain a better understanding of how vaccines work in the "real world" or if even they're working at all, not based off a clinical trial, but off of actual flu or coronavirus in-patient cases.

"We look to see if they've had any vaccines in the past and what type of vaccines they've received," Saade told 3News. "Then, based on the test — if they have flu or COVID — based on those numbers, [we use] that information to calculate how much the vaccine is effective for that particular year and whether a specific vaccine may be more effective than others."

Saade adds that while strands of both the flu and COVID are constantly changing, this study will help significantly with researching how the CDC moves forward with finding ways to better treat patients with flu or COVID symptoms and use that research to, hopefully, develop more advanced and effective vaccines for the future.


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