The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States announced the construction of a new centre this week to improve data availability in the face of public health concerns. The Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, according to the agency, would serve as a hub for disease modelling innovation and research, with a focus on equity and accessibility. As they set up the country’s first government-wide public health forecasting centre, this is an incredible opportunity for the CDC and public health.
The COVID-19 situation has highlighted the country’s urgent need for effective data analytics tools, particularly when it comes to diseases. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky in a statement, “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.”
Prediction, connectivity, including optimising interoperability and utilising API capabilities, and communication will be the core of the centre. This capability is critical for the United States. From a data analytics standpoint, the US federal government’s response to COVID-19 has been befuddling – and at times chaotic. Last summer, the Department of Health and Human Services of former President Donald Trump abruptly requested that hospitals bypass the CDC when providing data on COVID-19 patients.