NHMRC extends APPRISE funding for critical COVID-19 projects

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is varying APPRISE funding with an additional $2 million for nine COVID-19 research projects.

APPRISE was established in 2016 to prepare Australia for infectious disease emergencies, with a trigger available for additional funding for a rapid research response to an emergency such as the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will help our multidisciplinary teams of researchers across the country address critical areas of research need. The projects will inform the national and international COVID-19 response and ensure maximum benefit for the Australian public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the media release.

Project 1 – National and targeted sero-surveys of population immunity to SARS-COV2 to inform clinical and public health responses

Lead investigators: Professors Kristine Macartney (National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, NCIRS) and John Kaldor (Kirby Institute).

Objectives:

  • Determine the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection at a national level during and following the initial wave of community transmission
  • Determine the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in vulnerable populations
  • Determine factors (demographic, individual-level, occupational, travel or other) associated with the development of SARS-CoV-2 infection at a national and subpopulation level
  • Examine the utility of newly developed serological assays for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection

Project 2 – An enhanced first few hundred (FFX) research study to enhance the public health response to COVID-19 in Australia

Lead investigator: Professor Jodie McVernon (Doherty Institute)

Objectives

  • Refine estimates of key epidemic parameters of transmissibility and severity
  • Enhance understanding of COVID-19 within households using whole genomic sequencing
  • Identify asymptomatic or differently symptomatic COVID-19 infections in household contacts of cases by identifying seropositive individuals 28 days following first exposure to the virus

Read more about the FFX project.

Project 3 – CRISPER: COVID-19 Real-time Information System for Preparedness and Epidemic Response

Lead investigator: Associate Professor Colleen Lau (ANU)

Objectives

  • Develop a national real-time information and visualisation system to map the spread of COVID-19 in Australia over space and time
  • Use the above information to develop automated web-based dashboards with up-to-date infographics for public health practitioners, clinicians, other decision makers, the general public, and high-risk groups (eg. elderly, aged care facilities)
  • Provide evidence to support acute phase response and assess the impact of interventions
  • Provide data and information to support research, including modelling and clinical trials
  • Determine the impact of the dashboard on Australia’s preparedness and response to COVID-19

Read more about the CRISPER project.

Project 4 – REMAP-CAP for COVID 19

Lead investigators: Professors Steve Webb and Allen Cheng (Monash University)

REMAP-CAP is an existing multi-site international adaptive platform trial that was predesigned to adapt in the event of a pandemic.

Objectives

  • Generate evidence that can be applied to clinical practice during the pandemic, regarding the impact of multiple candidate interventions to reduce mortality or reduce the length of intensive care unit admission or both in critically ill patients with COVID-19 infection

Read more about the REMAP-CAP for COVID-19 project.

Project 5 – Establishing a national biobank for COVID-19

Lead investigator: Dr Irani Thevarajan (Doherty Institute)

Objectives

  • Establish a national biobank with corresponding clinical information for biological specimens from COVID-19, including children, adults and the elderly
  • Make this biobank available to all Australian researchers

Project 6 – Understanding stakeholder beliefs, attitudes and responses to COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC): a multimodal qualitative study

Lead investigator: Professor Lyn Gilbert (University of Sydney)

Objectives

  • Understand the attitudes, beliefs and concerns of “frontline carers” and individuals in quarantine about COVID-19 infection IPC methods and policies
  • Develop more effective communication strategies which will lead to more positive responses and compliance with IPC advice by frontline carers, during COVID-19 and other emergencies

Read more about this COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) project.

Project 7 – Innovative tools to limit spread of SARS-CoV-2 in residential aged care facilities

Lead investigator: Professor David Paterson (University of Queensland)

Objectives

  • Undertake a randomised controlled trial to determine if “gamification” can result in behaviour change for healthcare workers in the residential aged care setting
  • Utilise our innovative platform of temporo-spatial mapping to aid public health efforts in control of SARS-CoV-2 in residential aged care facilities

Project 8 – The interaction between influenza and SARS-CoV-2 in nursing homes

Lead investigator: Associate Professor Sheena Sullivan (Doherty Institute)

Objectives

Compare outbreaks of SARS-CoV-2 (the COVID-19 virus) and influenza in aged care in terms of:

  • Clinical outcomes of infection for residents of aged care facilities
  • The infection prevention and control measures implemented

Read more about this project.

Project 9 – First Nations Disaster Management Plans for COVID-19

Lead investigator: Professor Adrian Miller (Central Queensland University)

Objectives

  • Gain access into Indigenous local government and shires disaster management plans to assess alignment with current national and state plans for pandemic influenza and strategies to control COVID-19
  • Provide recommendations and feedback to Indigenous local government and shires using a First Nations community panel model on ways to improve alignment or to adapt existing strategies to national and state pandemic and COVID-19 plans
  • Provide health promotion and health literacy information about ways to control COVID-19 that can be locally developed that links to the social, cultural and economic conditions of rural and remote First Nations communities for disaster managements plans
  • Evaluate feasibility and effectiveness of implementing disaster managements plans in rural and remote Indigenous local government and shires in controlling COVID-19

Read more about First Nations Disaster Management Plans for COVID-19.