COVID-19 national situational assessment

Project Details

Since March 2020, Prof McCaw and Dr Shearer have coordinated a national team of researchers to support the Australian response to COVID-19 through model-based epidemic analysis, including nowcasting and forecasting.

Contributors include researchers from University of Melbourne, Telethon Kids Institute and Curtin University, Doherty Institute, Defence Science and Technology, University of Adelaide, Monash University and University of New South Wales.

Key analyses include real-time estimates of the rate of virus spread (the effective reproduction number), trends in population behaviour, and the impact of behaviour, immunity (infection- and vaccine-induced), health system effectiveness, case ascertainment, and variant characteristics on the potential for virus spread. These analyses allow us to describe observed trends in COVID-19 epidemiology over time and space, and importantly, anticipate future possible trends.

Drawing on the above analyses, we produce state-level forecasts of daily incident cases from an 'ensemble forecast’ of independent models (developed by independent teams). The ensemble forecast is used, in conjunction with data on hospitalisation (admission probabilities, length-of-stay) to compute forecasts of ward and ICU occupancy.

Outputs are produced weekly for all jurisdictions according to the Australian National Disease Surveillance Plan for COVID-19 and reported to key key national decision-making committees including the Communicable Diseases Network of Australia (CDNA), the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), and the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). Public summaries are available via the Australian Government’s Common Operating Picture and via periodically released technical reports (links below).

Research Outcomes

Reports (draft link)

Technical reports

2021-05-28-Technical-report-public-release

2020-07-17-Technical_report-public-release

2020-05-15-Technical_report-public-release

2020-05-05-Technical-report-public-release

2020-04-14-Technical-report-public-release

Research Publications

  1. Golding N, Price DJ, Ryan GE, McVernon J, McCaw JM, Shearer F, Estimating the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 during periods of high, low and zero case incidence, medRxiv: 21264509 (2021)[url]
  2. Price DJ, Shearer FM, Meehan MT, McBryde E, Moss R, Golding N, Conway EJ, Dawson P, Cromer D, Wood JG, Abbott S, McVernon J, McCaw JM, Early analysis of the Australian COVID-19 epidemic, eLife 9: e58785 (2020)[doi]

Research Group

Modelling and Simulation



Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Data science, health metrics and disease modeling



Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre

Melbourne School of Population and Global Health

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