CDC’s Global Resources Pivot to Address COVID-19

In December 2019, COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Subsequently, confirmed cases were detected in Thailand and Japan before spreading to the United States. On January 21, 2020 the United States confirmed its first COVID-19 case. On January 30, 2020, following recommendations of the Emergency Committee, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director General declared the outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and on March 11, 2020 the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

CDC works with other U.S. agencies to implement the U.S. government’s international COVID-19 strategy. The goals of CDC’s global response to COVID-19 are to:

  • Limit human-to-human transmission
  • Minimize the impact of COVID-19 in vulnerable countries with limited preparedness capacity
  • Reduce specific threats that pose current and future risk to the United States

To support implementation of the U.S. government’s international COVID-19 strategy, CDC received emergency supplemental funding from Congress. CDC activities enhance COVID-19 response capabilities abroad and continue to build long-term, sustainable capacity for future responses to highly communicable diseases. CDC is funding activities across several areas of work and, in partnership with other U.S. government agencies, aims to draw on assets and relationships built overseas.


CDC Health Scientist Kimberly Won and Microbiologist Keri Robinson demonstrate the proper technique for fingerstick blood collection during a virtual training for the American Samoa Department of Health in September 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CDC has adapted to provide technical assistance virtually.

Credit: Tara Brant, CDC

To accomplish the U.S. government’s international COVID-19 strategy, CDC:

  • Strengthens public health capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to local COVID-19 cases
  • Mitigates COVID-19 transmission in the community, across borders, and in healthcare facilities
  • Supports rapid identification of COVID-19 cases to improve patient care and minimize disruptions to health services
  • Addresses unknowns regarding clinical severity, extent of transmission, and infection support for special investigations
  • Ensures readiness to implement vaccines and therapeutics when available

Potential Impact of COVID-19 on the Global Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic could shrink global economic growth by 4.5% to 6% in 2020 with a partial recovery of a rate of 2.5% to 5.2% in 2021.


Global trade could fall by an annual amount of 9.2%, depending on the depth and extent of the global economic downturn. (source: iconexternal icon)


In addition to the tragic loss of life and devastating effects on the health and wellbeing of people around the world, disease outbreaks:


Disrupt global business continuity


Decrease tourism and travel


Lower worker productivity


Disrupt the market for U.S. exports and support for U.S.-based jobs

Page last reviewed: February 8, 2021
Content source: Global Health