Evaluation of the Australian first few X household transmission project for COVID-19
Adrian J Marcato, Miranda Z Smith, James E Fielding, Peter D Massey, Jodie McVernon
BMC Public Health, volume 23, Article number: 41 (2023). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-023-14979-3
The Australian First Few X (FFX) Household Transmission Project for COVID-19 was the first prospective, multi-jurisdictional study of its kind in Australia. The project was undertaken as a partnership between federal and state health departments and the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Disease Emergencies (APPRISE) and was active from April to October 2020.
We aimed to identify and explore the challenges and strengths of the Australian FFX Project to inform future FFX study development and integration into pandemic preparedness plans. We asked key stakeholders and partners involved with implementation to identify and rank factors relating to the strengths and challenges of project implementation in two rounds of modified Delphi surveys. Key representatives from jurisdictional health departments were then interviewed to contextualise findings within public health processes and information needs to develop a final set of recommendations for FFX study development in Australia.
Four clear recommendations emerged from the evaluation. Future preparedness planning should aim to formalise and embed partnerships between health departments and researchers to help better integrate project data collection into core public health surveillance activities. The development of functional, adaptable protocols with pre-established ethics and governance approvals and investment in national data infrastructure were additional priority areas noted by evaluation participants.
The evaluation provided a great opportunity to consolidate lessons learnt from the Australian FFX Household Transmission Project. The developed recommendations should be incorporated into future pandemic preparedness plans in Australia to enable effective implementation and increase local utility and value of the FFX platform within emergency public health response.