The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled a new infectious disease forecasting center on Tuesday.
According to US News, The Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics’ mission is to serves as an infectious disease outbreak’s “National Weather Service,” guiding public health decisions during epidemics. According to CNN, the new center’s head of operations, epidemiologist Dylan George, said these could include creating vaccinations, distributing antiviral drugs, and assisting individuals in determining if it is safe to go to public locations.
George and his colleagues are entrusted with improving the government’s “capacity to foresee and model new health concerns,” according to George.
“In short,” George added, “we need to use data more effectively to direct response efforts.”
According to CNN, the center’s planning began in August, with $200 million in initial funding coming from the COVID-19 stimulus package for 2021.
Since then, the team has helped advise policy on test-to-stay in schools, international travel, and vaccination boosters by estimating the severity of the Omicron variant and the timing and impact of the variation-driven increase in the United States.
“I am pleased to announce the establishment of the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics at the CDC,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in a statement.
“This new center exemplifies how we’re updating our approaches to preparing for and responding to public health concerns,” she said. “I’m proud of what this group has accomplished so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing further innovation in data, modeling, and analytics to improve epidemic response.”
“The failure to be prepared is truly astonishing,” said White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Ashish Jha, as the US approaches 1 million COVID deaths.
“Our leadership — our public health leadership — has reacted by scrambling to gather facts and make the best decisions possible. And I’d say we’ve done a very decent job so far.” According to CNN, Jha spoke during a rally supporting the new center’s opening. “However, it’s become quite evident that this is not the way to organise a pandemic response.”