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Sunday, October 24th, 2021

CDC to launch new center for disease outbreak forecasting, public health data access

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Utilizing initial funding from the American Rescue Plan, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled plans this week for a new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, focused on forecasts of disease outbreaks and analytics for public health.

The new center will be built on the foundations of public health data, expert disease modelers, public health emergency responders, and communications – all turned toward aiding public health decision makers. Speeding access to and use of public health data will be its primary goal, hoping that this could lead to swifter action on and mitigation of new disease threats. While emphasizing equity, it will be primarily organized along three concepts: prediction, connection, and information.

“This is an amazing opportunity for CDC and public health as we stand up the country’s first government-wide public health forecasting center,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, CDC Director, said. “We are excited to have the expertise and ability to model and forecast public health concerns and share information in real-time to activate governmental, private sector, and public actions in anticipation of threats both domestically and abroad.”

The prediction side of the organization will focus on modeling and forecasting, identification of required data sources, and real-time analytics research. The connection side will deal with expanding data sharing and integration capabilities and improving interoperability through new data standards and open-source software. Lastly, the informational side of the forecasting center will pursue translation and communication of the other sides’ forecasts and connecting decision-makers from all sectors.

Leading these efforts will be Drs. Marc Lipsitch, as director for science; Dylan George, as director for operations; Caitlin Rivers, as associate director; and Rebecca Kahn, as senior scientist.

“Pandemics threaten our families and communities at speed and scale – our response needs to move at speed and scale, too,” George said. “The Center will provide critical information to communities so we can respond efficiently and effectively. The U.S. desperately needs this capability, and I am grateful for the opportunity to help build it.”