The Optimise Study: Optimising Isolation, Quarantine and Distancing for COVID-19

The Optimise Study will collect strategic information to inform national policy and practice and understand and predict through mathematical models.

The study is focused on two key intervention methods to restrict the spread of the COVID-19 virus – isolation/quarantine and physical distancing.

Collect strategic information

  • Understand compliance and adherence with social isolation, quarantine and physical distancing
  • Determine key factors affecting cooperation with social and physical distancing measures, including health, social, structural and economic factors
  • Assess unintended consequences of isolation and distancing measures on key vulnerable groups and among the general population
  • Identify vulnerable populations for whom sustaining self-isolation is more difficult or who are disproportionately affected
  • Measure social contacts and mixing patterns to inform transmission modelling and assess if key groups or individuals are at higher risk of COVID-19 infection

Inform national policy and practice

  • Inform government strategy to release the population from the current “lock down” in a precise and informed way, that mitigates the risk of a flare up of new infections
  • Improve messaging and to enhance comprehension, acceptability and cooperation with Government guidance and interventions
  • Test the feasibility and acceptability of emerging strategies for COVID-19 testing such as point-of-care tests, home-based testing and antibody testing
  • Develop strategies to support highly vulnerable populations to reduce their risk of infection and limit unintended consequences
  • Report to the State and Federal Government through regular reports on compliance, key factors affecting compliance, and mechanisms to improve compliance

Understand and predict through mathematical models

  • Develop dynamic precision agent based mathematical models, utilising empirical data from the Optimise Study to inform and test strategic, such as the timing of the government’s release and restore strategies and the impact of various testing strategies,

“Critically over the next 12 months of the response, it is highly likely that there will be no effective vaccine and no effective drug treatments to control the COVID19 epidemic. The global response will need to rely on a combination of public health interventions, combined with thoughtful use of diagnostic testing and key support strategies,” Burnet Deputy Director Professor Margaret Hellard AM said.

Evidence from the Optimise Study will also assist community organisations and key health service groups in restoring economic activity and recreational activities whilst keeping new infections of COVID-19 at a low level. This involves real-time testing of key interventions to allow global scaling at speed.


Burnet Institute’s Chief Investigators

  • Professor Margaret Hellard AM
  • Dr Alisa Pedrana
  • Dr Angela Davis
  • Professor David Wilson
  • Associate Professor Joseph Doyle
  • Professor Mark Stoove
  • Dr Nick Scott
  • Dr Rachel Sacks Davis

Victorian Dept of Health & Human Services
Victorian Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton

Monash University - Alex Collie - Professor Allen Cheng

Centre for Culture Ethnicity & Health - Alison Coelho

Melbourne University

  • Dr Katherine Gibney – Chief Investigator
  • Freya Shearer – Chief Investigator
  • Lisa Gibbs – Chief Investigator
  • Nick Geard – Chief Investigator
  • Cam Zachreson
  • Deb Williamson
  • Jonathan Liberman
  • Karen Block
  • Niamh Meagher
  • Phoebe Quinn
  • Jane Oliver

Health Issues Centre - Danny Vadasz

Swinburne University - Professor Dean Lusher

Doherty Institute - Jodie McVernon - Nicole Allard - Simon Graham

LaTrobe University - Sophie Hill



12 months