Next up: Priority work for NCEZID in 2021 and beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic represents a critical juncture for public health and infectious diseases. For NCEZID specifically, responding to the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 has underscored the center’s contribution to preparedness as well as areas for needed growth. At the same time, we need to address our non-COVID priorities of protecting people from domestic and global health threats. This is mission-critical work and cannot be forgotten. Looking forward to 2021 and beyond, we will work with a variety of external partners to build national and global capacity in the following areas:

State and local support

NCEZID’S ELC (Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases) program has provided $11B in COVID-19 funding for state and local partners. The increased support combined with NCEZID’s expansive subject matter expertise has made ELC an even more critical funding mechanism. Looking ahead, ELC will explore new ways to support all levels of public health (from state to local and territorial) and the infectious disease workforce.

Laboratory strengthening

With more than 120 national, state, and local laboratories, the Laboratory Response Network’s (LRN) purpose is to respond to public health emergencies. An updated LRN-B network will be critical to responses to future infectious disease emergencies and must remain prepared for these threats.

Keep up with important changes in the virus

CDC’s response to COVID-19 has highlighted the central role of NCEZID in addressing gaps in healthcare preparedness and response, particularly related to infection control across the healthcare system and within facilities like nursing homes. Looking forward, we will need to establish preparedness and response plans that enhance the healthcare system’s capacity to prevent, detect, and respond to emerging diseases.

Travelers’ health and quarantine

Preventing and mitigating future pandemics will require

  • Modernizing our quarantine station network
  • Increasing our capacity in maritime settings (cruise ships and cargo ships) so that we can rapidly identify threats
  • Developing a comprehensive program to quickly provide travelers with essential information to contain infectious diseases before they spread.
Vector-borne disease

The US is increasingly vulnerable to diseases spread by mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks. Looking to 2021 and beyond, we need better data to develop disease prevention tools and research, which would then be made available to states and local jurisdictions for implementation. We need to continue to improve support for states to ensure they have the staff, laboratories, and data systems needed to implement full vector-control programs.

Antibiotic resistance

NCEZID remains committed to addressing the threat of antibiotic resistance, one of the biggest public health challenges of our time. In the US, we continue to drive change through greater implementation of infection prevention programs, antibiotic stewardship, and collaboration between public health and healthcare. Looking forward, we must address antibiotic resistance on a global scale to improve detection and infection prevention and support improved use of and access to antibiotics.

Advanced Molecular Detection

Genomic sequencing has been critical for our response to COVID-19, allowing us to keep up with important changes in the virus and contributing to better diagnostics and therapeutics. But as we already knew, AMD is important for all infectious diseases, and we will need to continue to prepare for the next pathogen and outbreak on the horizon.

Global health

NCEZID’s global portfolio includes everything from full-scale programs to discrete research and assistance, as well as cross-cutting bodies of work that underpin major global responses. NCEZID is also a main implementing partner in global health security. Looking forward, we want to move the needle of impact in multiple areas of global health including antibiotic resistance, cholera, rabies, and viral hemorrhagic fevers, just to name a few. Supporting these prevention and control efforts helps us strengthen capacities in our partner countries for responding to emerging disease threats.

2020 NCEZID Accomplishments