New CDC Center to Predict Pandemics, Provide ‘Outbreak Analytics and Science for Real-time Action’

Craig Bannister | April 19, 2022 | 3:10pm EDT
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On Tuesday, the Biden Administration announced the launch of the CDC’s new Center for Forecasting and Analysis (CFA) to predict future pandemics and guide the government’s efforts to address such anticipated infectious disease threats.

A center of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CFA will use “infectious disease modeling and analytics and to provide support to leaders at the federal, state, and local levels,” the CDC explains in its announcement.

As “the equivalent of the National Weather Service for infectious diseases,” the CFA will “predict trends and guide decision-making,” the CDC says:

“CFA’s work will be focused into three main pillars: to predict, inform, and innovate. CFA 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.”

According to the CFA website, the new center will also predict the future course of ongoing pandemics, in order to help public health officials to take preemptive measures:

“The goal of the Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics (CFA) is to enable timely, effective decision-making to improve outbreak response using data, modeling, and analytics.

“To do so, CFA will produce models and forecasts to characterize the state of an outbreak and its course, inform public health decision makers on potential consequences of deploying control measures, and support innovation to continuously improve the science of outbreak analytics and modeling.”

CFA Science Director Marc Lipsitch, hopes to employ regular population sampling, by means like blood draws and swab tests, in order to collect data, the AP reports:

“[T]he United Kingdom uses regular population sampling with swab tests and blood draws to get a clearer picture of who’s been infected, said Marc Lipsitch, the new center’s science director. He said similar sampling should be considered in the U.S.”

In March of 2020, Lipsitch co-authored “Human Challenge Studies to Accelerate Coronavirus Vaccine Licensure,” which defended the use of studies that intentionally infect healthy people in order to research a pathogen’s effects and treatments. In it, Lipsitch argues that asking healthy people to be infected is just as acceptable as asking volunteer firefighters to fight fires or asking relatives to donate organs.

The CFA’s initial funding is being provided by President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

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