The wide scale health and societal impact of COVID-19 have thrown into stark relief the lack of coordinated advance warning systems for epidemics and pandemics. This seminar will feature public health and policy experts discussing the forecasting of infectious disease outbreaks; where we stand now, and what systems will be developed in years to come. Learn what kind of data generation, systems and technologies require investment to develop advanced warning systems for better prevention and preparedness. Currently, the full force of epidemiological expertise in the United States is not being brought to bear to solve the problem. The absence of a centralized system for disease forecasting leave too many gaps hampering the capability of infectious disease models to inform public health policy. The best way to address these vulnerabilities would be to establish a National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, which would handle research and development in outbreak science, develop technology for producing disease forecasts, and provide guidance for preparedness and response to outbreaks.
This seminar will be moderated by Wilmot James (ISERP Senior Research Scholar) and Alex Halliday (Director, Earth Institute).
Overview of the National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics
Caitlin Rivers (Johns Hopkins University) and Dylan George (In-Q-Tel)
On the first full day in office, the Biden-Harris administration announced an intention to create a National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics. Modeled after the National Weather Service, this epidemic forecasting center would help public health officials to anticipate and respond to outbreaks before they grow into epidemics or pandemics. This capability must be developed to ensure the country is never caught unprepared again. Intimately involved in its development, Dylan George and Caitlin Rivers will review the background and origins of this Center. They will outline the reasons for and implementation of epidemic forecasting and analytics, which already play a key role in decision making during biological threats but is currently done by volunteers in academia. A National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics would professionalize this important work and ensure that federal, state and local leaders have the capabilities at hand to respond to urgent threats.
Improving Infectious Disease Forecast
Jeffrey Shaman (Columbia Mailman School of Public Health)