The White House announced late Friday that its Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, have set up the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats.

The new committee, the White House said, is part of the administration’s work on the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. It’s unclear from Friday’s announcement what specific work the committee may perform other than to provide advice to the administration.

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McNutt said the National Academies “stand ready to provide evidence-based advice to protect U.S. citizens in a timely and expedited manner” regarding the virus. She said COVID-19 “is the sort of international health threat that creates a climate ripe for misinformation, rumors, and panic, all of which can lead to poor decisions.”

Kelvin Droegemeier, OSTP’s director, said the committee “is a critical tool for examining emerging infectious diseases, like the COVID-19 outbreak, and providing expedited, strategic input to policy making processes.” He added, “We are creating a direct line to the nation’s top scientific minds on public health.”

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.