This COVID-19 risk calculator helps you reduce your exposure
If you’re about to walk to a cramped basement bar in a city with low vaccination rates and high COVID-19 case rates, it’s easy to view the situation as risky. But the risk factor for each outing isn’t so clear – and even for those who are clearly at high risk, knowing your real chances of catching the virus isn’t straightforward.
Manufacturers of MicroCOVID project hope to help. As Smithsonian reports, the microCOVID project is essentially a website that collects relevant data – vaccine efficacy, transmission and vaccination rates by region, number of cases, etc. – and quantifies the risk for just about any given activity, which you can customize to suit your situation. After entering your location, you can either choose a scenario from the drop-down menu or start building your own from scratch. (If you choose a pre-existing one, you can still edit all the details.)
Say, for example, you are in Kings County, New York; you have received two doses of Moderna vaccine; and you want to know how risky it would be to eat out in a restaurant. Enter that information, then update the other boxes with any other details you know: how long you’ll be there, how many people will be within 15 feet of you, if you’ll be wearing a mask (and what type of mask ), etc. As you progress through the form, the risk meter at the bottom of the screen will show you a risk level from low to high.
The meter will also tell you what percentage of your “weekly risk budget” the output will use and roughly how many “microCOVID” it represents. A microCOVID, a unit of measurement proposed by the creators of the project, equates to a one in a million chance of contracting COVID-19. So if your outdoor dining experience is around 67 microCOVID, your chance of getting infected during it is 67 in 1 million. You can adjust the Weekly Risk Budget based on what you’re comfortable with, but it defaults to 200 microCOVIDs per week, which equates to roughly 10,000 microCOVIDs per year. With this budget, your overall chance of contracting COVID-19 over one year is approximately 1%.
As Yale University epidemiologist F. Perry Wilson said Smithsonian, the tool could potentially give people a “false sense of security” about the security of their activities. In other words, you might unintentionally start letting the weekly budget meter overtake your own decision-making skills.
But the microCOVID project can help you compare the risk levels of two completely different situations, such as an airplane flight where everyone is masked and a crowded outdoor party where everyone is unmasked, and make decisions. on what (and how much) you are willing to do.
You can try it for yourself here.