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New CDC outbreak forecasting center could do for disease what weather service does for meteorology

An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the coronavirus. (Courtesy CDC)
An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the coronavirus. (Courtesy CDC)

When people want information about the weather, they turn to the National Weather Service. But when it comes to forecasting the severity of a disease — or worse, a pandemic like COVID-19 — the U.S. hasn’t had a place to turn to for reliable data.

That’s not to say that there isn’t modeling in the United States. The problem is the opposite: There are so many different models, using so many different data points and methods that health officials can’t figure out what to do.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hopes that’s about to change with the new Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics, a $200-million institute they hope will stop the next pandemic.

Host Scott Tong talks to Dr. Marc Lipsitch, the center’s science director.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.