Covid modelling to assist future pandemic responses

A NHMRC Partnership Project grant will improve our responses to COVID-19, influenza, and future pandemic threats.

Associate Professor James Wood from UNSW Medicine & Health has been awarded a $1 million NHMRC Partnership Project grant for an integrated modelling and public health surveillance project. The project also aims to improve control of epidemic and pandemic respiratory infections in Australia.

“Over the past two years, we have seen a huge increase in public health surveillance and modelling to help us gain insights into COVID-19. In most instances the surveillance and modelling efforts have been undertaken separately, with little opportunity to integrate them into existing public health practice,” A/Prof. Wood said.

“This grant provides an exciting opportunity to work with our partner health departments in NSW, ACT and Queensland, using integrated models and surveillance, together with evidence-based insights from 2020-22 to improve our responses to COVID-19, influenza and future pandemic threats.”

Dean of UNSW Medicine & Health, Professor Vlado Perkovic, congratulated A/Prof. Wood on receiving the grant.

“James’ research has been enormously helpful and successful in responding to COVID-19 in Australia. This grant will ensure an even better response is achieved in controlling respiratory infections going forward,” Prof. Perkovic said.

A/Prof. Wood said that as the nation transitions to COVID-19 becoming endemic rather than a pandemic, waning immunity and the emergence of new variants will present continued risks of rebound waves.

“We also haven’t had epidemics of influenza B or whooping cough for more than three years suggesting the potential for larger waves of these over the next five years. Integrated modelling and surveillance for respiratory pathogens can also provide early warning for resurgence of these infections as well.”

The NHMRC Partnership Projects funding scheme provides funding and support to create new opportunities for researchers and policymakers to work together to define research questions, undertake research, interpret the findings and implement the findings into policy and practice.

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