CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky (Official photo)
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky (Official photo)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced the launch of the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA).

The center seeks to enhance the nation’s ability to use data, models and analytics to enable timely, effective decision-making in response to public health threats for CDC and its public health partners, the CDC said in a statement.

“CFA’s goals are to improve outbreak response using infectious disease modeling and analytics and to provide support to leaders at the federal, state, and local levels,” the statement read.

They noted that CFA will also develop a program to provide insights about infectious disease events to the public to inform individual decision-making – the equivalent of the National Weather Service for infectious diseases.

“I am excited we have launched CDC’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics,” said Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, CDC director. “This new center is an example of how we are modernizing the ways we prepare for and respond to public health threats. I am proud of the work that has come out of this group thus far and eager to see continued innovation in the use of data, modeling, and analytics to improve outbreak responses.”

Walensky added that CFA’s work will be focused on three main pillars: to predict, inform and innovate.

The center has begun to build a world-class outbreak analytics team with experts across several disciplines to develop faster, richer evidence to predict trends and guide decision-making during emergencies, the CDC said.

The center is hiring expert communicators to regularly share insights with federal, state and local partners and the public.

CFA will also continue to advance the state of the science of outbreak data, models and analytics to improve the nation’s ability to respond to health emergencies. 

“The capabilities and team we are building at the new center will improve decision-making in a health crisis,” said Dr. Dylan George, director for operations. “I am proud of the CFA team and excited for the future. Better data and analytics will give us better responses to protect all Americans.”

Planning for the center began in August, with the initial funding of $200 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. Thus far, the CDC has awarded $26 million in funding to academic institutions and federal partners to advance modeling and forecasting methodology, with an emphasis on workforce development and health equity.

In December, CFA worked with academic partners to assemble models anticipating the Omicron wave and generated early estimates of Omicron severity, giving leaders an opportunity to bolster the response.

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Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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