To accelerate the development of new infectious disease forecasting methods, DARPA launched its CHIKV Challenge. The chikungunya virus (CHIKV) first appeared in the Americas in 2013 but was quickly spreading and by mid-2015, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) had tallied close to 1.4 million suspected cases and more than 33,000 confirmed. Spread by mosquitoes, chikungunya is rarely fatal but can cause debilitating joint and muscle pain, fever, nausea, fatigue, and rash, and poses a growing public health and national security risk.
The goal of the CHIKV Challenge was to develop means for making accurate forecasts of where and when the virus occurs because such intelligence would help governments and health organizations take more effective proactive steps to limit the spread of CHIKV. Thirty-eight teams from around the world vied to develop the most accurate predictions of CHIKV cases for all Western Hemisphere countries and territories between September 2014 and March 2015.
On May 12, 2014, DARPA unveiled the 11 winners of the competition during a scientific review event held at the Agency’s offices in Arlington, Va. The event, which included representation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Defense (DoD), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), highlighted results, lessons learned and potential next steps to improve state-of-the-art infectious disease forecasting. The winning teams received a total of $500,000 in prize money.
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