Marshfield Clinic Sole Reference Lab for mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Effectiveness Study

Mar 30, 2021

Credit Office of the Secretary of Defense

A new CDC-led study shows mRNA vaccines to be 90% effective against COVID-19 after the second dose and 80% effective after the first.

The Marshfield Clinic Research Institute was the sole reference lab in the nation for the research.

For 13 consecutive weeks, researchers tested nearly 4,000 samples a week for COVID-19 from healthcare workers, first responders, and other frontline essential workers. These are people who are more likely to contract the virus because of their job. They’re also among the first in the country to get vaccinated.

Researchers found overwhelming support that the mRNA vaccines are very effective in preventing the virus.

Jennifer Meece is the Director of the Research Institute’s Integrated Research and Development Laboratory.  She says this research shows the real-world application of it.

“We talk about you know, you do symptom monitoring. If you do symptom monitoring but you are shedding the virus days before you become symptomatic, that’s a risk for making other people sick. By getting vaccinated you’re reducing, by 90% the number of people who are going to get sick. That’s the key message here, the vaccinations prevent people from getting the infections,” said Meece.

Meece stressed this is an interim release of the data, meaning there’s still a lot more research to be done. The Marshfield Clinic Research Institute will continue to collect samples from the participants in the study.

Meece says it’s humbling to have a role in study that has such a large impact on our knowledge of the coronavirus.

“You know we’re in Marshfield, Wisconsin which is a relatively, small rural community compared to large academic institutions in rural cities. We have a very dedicated staff. We work really hard. This is not easy work. We came to work every single day. We worked side by side to do these testings to provide great test results in a relatively short turnaround time.”

Marshfield Clinic got a $22.5 million dollar grant in July to play a role in a number of COVID-19 studies.

Future updates of the study may address the effectiveness of newer COVID-19 vaccines, including single dose vaccines, and the protection against infection with COVID variants.