IDSA: New CDC Center a Welcome Step Toward Preparedness, Greater Investments Needed
The official launch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, which was created last summer, is a welcome step in our country’s fight against COVID-19 and future pandemics. It also underscores the need to strengthen our global, national and local infrastructure for gathering, analyzing and reporting data on infectious disease threats in order to better prepare and inform public health responses. The goals of this new center — to better predict the impacts of COVID-19 and future threats — will only be fully realized with sufficient, sustained funding to support surveillance and other public health activities.
In addition, while the leadership this center can provide is crucial, it is equally important to have experts in every community who can serve as local partners to follow the specific data in their areas, serve as trusted health messengers in their communities, and manage local surges and needs on the ground. Unfortunately, nearly 80% of U.S. counties lack an infectious diseases physician. The BIO Preparedness Workforce Act currently before Congress would help grow the supply of ID experts who work in underserved settings by providing loan repayment. Improved valuation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of ID physician services would help ensure that all communities have access to ID experts.
--Daniel P. McQuillen, MD, FIDSA – President, Infectious Diseases Society of America