ASU Running $12.5 Million CDC Study on Flu, COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy

ASU Running $12.5 Million CDC Study on Flu, COVID-19 Vaccine Efficacy

By Corinne Murdock |

Arizona State University (ASU) will complete a five-year, $12.5 million CDC study to gauge the efficacy of the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. ASU’s Biodesign Institute will team up with Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Valleywise Health to recruit study participants.

In a press release earlier this month, ASU explained that the study would have two components: measuring the flu and COVID-19 vaccines’ effectiveness during the flu season, and vaccine-induced immune responses over time.

The first component will assess over 1,000 participants infected by the flu or COVID-19. In doing so, researchers will identify communities disproportionately impacted by the flu or COVID-19, as well as the genomic subtypes and variants present within the participants.

The second component will assess about 250 participants who received both the flu and COVID-19 vaccines. ASU disclosed that the purpose of this second component of the study is to better understand the impact of repeated vaccination on vaccine effectiveness. 

The coalition’s clinical experts will be Joanna Kramer with Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Jeffrey Curtis with Valleywise Health, and Mario Islas with ASU. There will also be a number of team members hailing from various ASU schools and colleges: Vel Murugan, a primary investigator; Yunro Chung, a biostatistician; Efrem Lim, a virologist; Matthew Scotch, a molecular epidemiologist; Leah Doane and Cruz Cruz, health disparity experts; Mitch Magee, a clinical researcher; and Craig Woods, a clinical site manager. 

Murugan said that the present state of the Valley makes it the perfect location for the study. 

“Phoenix is a very fast-growing area with a diverse population, which is changing economically and demographically every day,” stated Murugan. 

Arizona is one of a handful of states involved in the CDC’s Vaccine Effectiveness Networks

RAIVEN sites conduct randomized trials to evaluate flu vaccine efficacy on those aged 18-64 years old. This fall’s trial compares the efficacy of the recombinant flu vaccine versus a standard dose egg-based flu vaccine. Trial participants receive one of the two study vaccines over the course of two flu seasons: 2022-23 and 2023-24. 

The other Vaccine Effectiveness Networks are the Flu Vaccine Effectiveness (VE), Influenza and Other Viruses in the Acutely Ill (IVY), New Vaccine Surveillance Network, VISION Vaccine Effectiveness Network, Respiratory Virus Transmission Network (RVTN), and Randomized Assessment of Influenza Vaccine Efficacy Network (RAIVEN).

Arizona is also home to study sites for the VE, IVY, RVTN, and RAIVEN.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to

Governor Ducey Gives Hospitals Vaccine Mandate Power and $35.2 Million

Governor Ducey Gives Hospitals Vaccine Mandate Power and $35.2 Million

By Corinne Murdock |

Governor Doug Ducey carved out an exemption for hospitals in his renewed executive order addressing COVID-19 vaccine mandates (EO 2021-21), though it banned the state and all counties, cities, and towns from implementing any. Additionally, Ducey issued hospitals $35.2 million in grants to aid in staffing shortages. The $35.2 million meted out to $1.2 million in dialysis center support to Valleywise Health, $6 million for more beds, and $28 million to extend around 300 nursing staff contracts.

According to campaign finance records, Arizona’s hospitals did greatly support Ducey during both of his gubernatorial campaigns: Tenet Healthcare, West Valley Hospital, Carondelet Health, Honor Health, Maricopa Integrated Health System (now Valleywise Health), Banner Health, Dignity Health, and Yuma Regional Medical Center.

Health insurance giants also supported Ducey during his two campaigns: UnitedHealth, WellCare Health Plans, Cigna, and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Makers and distributors of the COVID-19 vaccine had Ducey’s back as well: Pfizer and McKesson donated thousands to Ducey’s campaigns respectively. McKesson is a major distributor of the COVID-19 vaccine, and Ducey’s special advisor on vaccination efforts, Dr. Richard Carmona, was one of the latest additions to the distributor’s board. Carmona was appointed to the board about two weeks after Ducey announced him as an advisor to the state. 

12 News reported Carmona receives approximately $400 an hour from the state to promote the vaccine through Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). For about two collective weeks of work, Carmona has earned over $35,000. ADHS spokespersons confirmed that Carmon will remain in his advisory role past the December 31 contract end date — possibly through 2022. 

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association (AHA) thanked Ducey for this decision to reaffirm their mandating abilities. The AHA and its former president supported Ducey during both his runs for governor with thousands in donations. 

The funds follow $60 million allocated in September to aid in health care facility staffing for administering treatments to decrease COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

Arizona, like many other states, is facing a nursing shortage; their number determines the number of beds available for patients. Earlier this month, ADHS asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for staff who can aid in monoclonal antibody treatments at Banner Health, Carondelet St. Joseph’s Hospital, Banner Health Plus, Banner Estrella Medical Center, Valleywise Health Medical Center, Dignity Health Arizona General Hospital, and Abrazo Central Campus, as well as emergency support at Yuma Regional Medical Center and Canyon Vista Medical Center. 

ADHS confirmed the first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 last week in Yavapai County.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to