The CFA is the Center for Forecasting and Outbreaking Analytics, and it’s a branch of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). It’s goal is to enable timely and effective decision making to improve outbreak response using data and modeling.
They follow the 13 steps of disease outbreaks (in a future post), and produce models and “forecasts” to characterize the state of an outbreak and its course, inform public health decision makers on potential consequences and impacts, as well as support innovation to improve the science of epidemiology.
The CFA is fairly recent. It was established in January of 2021, but leadership only began work in August. Although the CFA was still in the pre launch phase of development in winter of 2021, they quickly decided to focus on predicting the impact of the omicron variant in the US. Within days of recognizing that the Omicron variant would cause a surge in the United States, the CFA team alerted federal leaders, state public health partners, and the public so that they could plan for the increase in cases and disruption of the infrastructure.
The Center has 3 core functions; predict, inform, and innovate. People who are in charge of predicting generate forecasts and analyses to support outbreak preparedness and response. Some ways they do this consist of model and forecasting outbreaks, producing analyses, evaluating the forecasts they made, evaluating analytic products to asses performance and advance science, and establishing and maintaining a data technology architecture. They must also collaborate with federal, state, and local leaders to support decision making that will positively impact the public. The second core function is informing. When doing this, you are sharing timely information with the federal government, state (and local) leaders, and the public. It’s essential to know a lot of language because you need to be able to translate and communicate forecasts and analyses. You need to be kind and social with others, since it is important to maintain a network to engage decision makers. The final core function is innovate. Here, you advance research and development priorities to improve the performance of outbreak forecasts and analyses. You will be enhancing data sources and studies in collaboration with academic partners, supporting the development of accurate and timely forecasts, establishing a network of test beds and state jurisdictions to test analytics, and advancing communication and visualizing capabilities.
As you can see, the CFA branch of the CDC is very important to find patterns in pandemics, and to forecast future disease emergences. Although they are a quite recent addition, I know that they will be very useful to the public in the long run.
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