Australian researchers launch COVID-19 calculator that assesses your risk of contracting the virus

A COVID-19 risk calculator that allows people to assess their chances of catching and dying from coronavirus, based on their age, sex, vaccination status and spread in the community, was launched today.

University of Queensland virologist Kirsty Short said the online tool was designed to help people make informed decisions about COVID-19 vaccination given their personal circumstances and to assess their likelihood infection under different transmission scenarios.

“You can also find out your chances of developing an atypical blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine and see this data in the context of other related risks, such as being struck by lightning or winning the OzLotto.”

The CoRiCal project is a collaboration between the Immunization Coalition, University of Queensland, Flinders University, La Trobe University and Queensland University of Technology.

It included contributions from general practitioners, medical scientists, public health physicians, epidemiologists and statisticians.

Calculator in pilot phase

Dr Short, one of the research leaders who developed CoRiCal, said it was still in its pilot phase, giving a risk-benefit assessment based solely on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dr Short said researchers plan to update the calculator to account for a person’s pre-existing drug conditions.(Provided: University of Queensland)

The tool will be continuously updated in accordance with the latest scientific and health evidence, including risk calculations for Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, which will be added in the coming weeks.

The two COVID mRNA vaccines have been linked to a small number of cases of pericarditis and myocarditis – inflammation of different parts of the heart.

Dr Short said researchers plan to update the calculator to account for a person’s pre-existing drug conditions, such as obesity and diabetes – two known susceptibility risk factors for developing severe COVID-19 .

Ultimately, the hope is that the tool will also assess a person’s chances of developing Long COVID – when patients have long-term symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain, and brain fog.

“I think this is a really important consideration that people need to take into account, especially for younger people who are not at high risk of dying if they contract COVID-19, but Long COVID is a real threat. and it’s not something that anyone wants to have, ”said Dr Short.

“We wait a bit until we get more reliable data but… I think this is an important feature of the calculator, especially for the younger ones.”

Avoids having to take care of it yourself

Colleen Lau, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at UQ, who helped develop the calculator modeling framework, said she presented the risk-benefit analysis in a simple and interactive way, thus preventing people “from having to work it themselves”.

“You enter your age, your gender, the number of vaccine doses you have received and the level of community transmission,” she said.

“It will calculate your risk of side effects from the vaccine versus your risk of getting or dying from COVID if you haven’t been vaccinated.”

Professor Lau, of the UQ School of Public Health, said that although Queensland had been relatively free from community transmission during the pandemic, it would not last once borders were reopened with NSW, Victoria, ACT and the world.

“It is not possible to maintain zero transmission forever,” she said.

“And it takes time for vaccines to work, so the sooner we get vaccinated the better.”

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