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29 Apr 2020

Doherty Institute contributes to published reports from the Rapid Research Information Forum

Researchers from the Doherty Institute have contributed to two of three published reports from the Rapid Research Information Forum (RRIF), launched today.

The RRIF was convened and is chaired by Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Alan Finkel. It benefits from operational support and leadership from the Australian Academy of Science, and is a collaboration of participant organisations. It’s purpose is for the participants to work together to rapidly answer pressing questions about COVID-19, as they emerge. Questions are put to the RRIF members by Ministers and other key decision makers, for example to support the work of the Chief Medical Officer, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), and the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC).

The first report was entitled Re-infection with SARS-CoV-2 – this rapid research brief synthesises the evidence for whether reinfection with SARS-CoV-2 is possible and whether there is any emerging risk that not all patients develop immunity once they clear the virus. Some of the key findings from this report included: based on the changes detected in blood cells and antibodies seen in most recovered patients, it could be reasonably extrapolated that individuals would be protected from reinfection with the same strain, at least in the short to medium term. The two contributing authors on this report were Professor Dale Godfrey FAHMS, Professor, Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Professor Kanta Subbarao, Director, WHO Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza and Professor.

The second paper entitled Monitoring wastewater to detect COVID-19 – this rapid research brief synthesises the evidence of the feasibility of monitoring wastewater for early detection and monitoring of COVID-19 in the population. One of the key findings here was about WBE techniques being used widely as early warning and monitoring systems for the spatial and temporal trends of diseases and that WBE for precise and timely detection of SARS-CoV-2 in the population is an area of active research and we can expect to see rapid improvements, as it matures, it is possible that monitoring wastewater could serve as a useful surveillance tool for early detection of COVID-19 in the population, to manage its spread or to provide evidence supporting its absence. Three contributing authors on this report were Dr Mike Catton, Director Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory – Dr Julian Druce, Head of Virus Infection Laboratory and Associate Professor Bruce Thorley, Head of National Enterovirus Reference Laboratory & WHO Polio Regional Reference Laboratory  

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