Invest in New Labs for CDC Now to Prepare for Future Health Threats

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recognized as a global leader in response to infectious diseases, the agency is currently raising an alert. They are letting our nation know that their high containment laboratories—those that are used to address the deadliest disease threats—need a major investment to remain safe and relevant. This is the message from a new Op-Ed in The Hill authored by our President and CEO Dr. Judy Monroe.

Since CDC’s current high containment laboratories were brought online in 2005, said Dr. Monroe, there have been incredible lab advancements. In addition, the previous era’s technology is rapidly being replaced. That alone is a real concern. But what’s more alarming, according to Dr. Monroe, is that without new labs the agency has indicated it may be forced into an unplanned shutdown of its high containment lab work within just a few short years. That’s because the current lab’s critical systems, including air pressurization and door locks, will begin to show signs of failure with the potential to put scientists’ safety at risk. 

According to Dr. Monroe, “the good news is that the president recognizes the urgent need for a new high containment continuity lab and has included $350 million in his budget proposal for work on this facility. That’s a great start, but the full cost, including the lab and all the necessary infrastructure to support it, will require a total investment of $480 million.”

Experts tell us that it’s not a matter of if but when we face the next pandemic. We need to be ready.

“Congressional budget action is critical for work on the labs to begin—the sooner the safer,” said Monroe. “We never know when the next health threat will occur, but we know that one will. As a nation, let’s make this crucial investment in high containment continuity labs to ensure that CDC as our nation’s health protection agency has the tools it needs to protect us all.”

Claire Stinson is a communications officer for the CDC Foundation.