Understanding how Victoria, Australia gained control of its second COVID-19 wave


James M Trauer, Michael J Lydeamore, Gregory W Dalton David Pilcher, Michael T Meehan, Emma S McBryde, Allen C Cheng, Brett Sutton, Romain Ragonnet

Nature Communications, 12, Article number: 6266 (2021). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26558-4

During 2020, Victoria was the Australian state hardest hit by COVID-19, but was successful in controlling its second wave through aggressive policy interventions. We calibrated a detailed compartmental model of Victoria’s second wave to multiple geographically-structured epidemic time-series indicators. We achieved a good fit overall and for individual health services through a combination of time-varying processes, including case detection, population mobility, school closures, physical distancing and face covering usage. Estimates of the risk of death in those aged ≥75 and of hospitalisation were higher than international estimates, reflecting concentration of cases in high-risk settings. We estimated significant effects for each of the calibrated time-varying processes, with estimates for the individual-level effect of physical distancing of 37.4% (95%CrI 7.2−56.4%) and of face coverings of 45.9% (95%CrI 32.9−55.6%). That the multi-faceted interventions led to the dramatic reversal in the epidemic trajectory is supported by our results, with face coverings likely particularly important.