‘First Few X’ (FFX) research project to enhance the public health response to COVID-19 in Australia

Project team

Professor Jodie McVernon

Associate Professor Mark Taylor

Associate Professor Douglas Boyle

Ms Priyanka Pillai

Dr Miranda Smith

Dr Ben Polkinghorne

Professor Kanta Subbarao

Professor Margaret Hellard

Associate Professor David Anderson

Associate Professor Vijay Dhanasekaran

Professor Joshua Ross

Dr Andrew Black

Mr Adrian Marcato

Project details

This activity, coordinated through the Australian Government Department of Health, is known as the ‘First few X’ (FFX) project, where ‘X’ represents the first identified cases of COVID-19. The Australian FFX project is based on a World Health Organization protocol and is one of many similar studies being conducted worldwide.

The project will help us gain an early understanding of the infectiousness and severity of COVID-19 in Australia. The results of this project will inform public health policy and assist the Australian Government and state and territory governments to further develop and direct the public health response to this new virus.  Additionally, this information helps to support international understanding of this new disease.

The project involves conducting weekly interviews and the collection of a respiratory swab every week for up to 4 weeks from household contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The project is currently being conducted in a number of states, however the data collected in this FFX project will inform public health responses to COVID-19 Australia-wide.

Project aim

The overall aim of the FFX project is to gain an early understanding of some of the key clinical, epidemiological and virological characteristics of the confirmed cases and their household contacts. This will inform the development and updating of national and jurisdictional policy and guidance to manage cases and reduce the spread and impact of infection in Australia.

The results obtained through this FFX project will provide valuable information about:

  • The transmissibility of COVID-19 among household contacts – Household members will be studied as one unit to help understand how COVID-19 is spreading within households and to provide the essential information needed to help make better public health decisions in Australia.
  • The role of children in disease transmission – There is a lot of uncertainty about the role of children in spreading COVID-19 since very few children have been diagnosed with the disease. The inclusion of children in the project will ensure that we understand more about their role in disease transmission.
  • Planning for outbreaks – This project will provide insight into COVID-19 and will help to inform public health recommendations and actions throughout this outbreak, and for preparedness planning in the event of similar future outbreaks.

FFX project results will be used to:

  • Guide public health recommendations
  • Support preparedness planning in hospitals and other parts of the health service to ensure that needed care is available for patients throughout the epidemic.

Do you have more questions?

Please read our FAQ page for further information, or email us at ffx-info@unimelb.edu.au

If you are participating in the FFX project please contact your state/territory department of health.

For all other enquiries, please call Laura Bannerman on 03 9035 7940.