Auditing preparedness for vector control field studies

C. M. Collins and M. M. Quinlan,  American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene,  102:707-710. 2020.

The value of baseline entomological data to any future area-wide release campaign relies on the application of consistent methods to produce results comparable across different times and places in a stepwise progression to larger releases. Traditionally, standard operating procedures (SOPs) and operational plans support this consistency and, thus, the validity of emergent data. When release plans include transgenic mosquitoes for vector control or other novel beneficial insects, additional factors come into play such as biosafety permits, stakeholder acceptance, and ethics approval, which require even greater coordination and thoroughness. An audit approach was developed to verify the correct use of SOPs and appropriate performance of tasks during mosquito mark, release, recapture (MRR) studies. Audit questions matched SOPs, permit terms and conditions, and other key criteria, and can be used to support subsequent “spot check” verification by field teams. An external team of auditors, however, was found to be effective for initial checks in this example before the use of a transgenic strain of laboratory mosquitoes. We recommend similar approaches for field studies using release of novel beneficial insects, to ensure useful and valid data as an outcome and to support confidence in the rigor of the step-wise process.