A COVID-19 risk calculator that allows people to assess their chances of contracting the coronavirus and dying from it, based on age, gender, vaccination status and community spread, was launched today.
- CoRiCal online is still in the pilot phase, researchers say
- This tool will be continuously updated according to the latest health and scientific evidence
- It is hoped that this tool will eventually also assess a person’s chances of catching Long COVID
University of Queensland virologist Kirsty Short said: online tool designed to help people make informed decisions around COVID-19 vaccination considering their personal circumstances and to gauge their probability of infection based on different transmission scenarios.
“You can also find out your chances of developing an atypical blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine and view this data in the context of other associated risks – such as being struck by lightning or winning an OzLotto.”
The CoRiCal project is a collaboration between the Immunization Coalition, University of Queensland, University of Flinders, La Trobe University and Queensland University of Technology.
This includes input from general practitioners, medical scientists, public health physicians, epidemiologists and statisticians.
Calculator in pilot stage
Dr Short, one of the lead researchers who developed CoRiCal, said it is still in the pilot phase, providing a risk-benefit assessment based solely on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
This tool will be continuously updated as the latest health and scientific evidence, including risk calculations for Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines, will be added in the coming weeks.
Both COVID mRNA vaccines have been linked to a small number of cases of pericarditis and myocarditis – inflammation of various parts of the heart.
Dr Short said researchers plan to update the calculator to take into account a person’s pre-existing medical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes – both known susceptibility risk factors for developing severe COVID-19.
Ultimately, the hope is that the tool will also assess a person’s chance of catching Long-term COVID – when patients have long-term symptoms, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, chest pain and brain fog.
“I think this is a very important consideration that people need to make, especially for younger individuals who may not be at high risk of dying if they catch COVID-19, but Long COVID is a real threat and it’s not something anyone would want to have, said Dr Short.
“We waited a bit until we got more reliable data, but … I think this is an important feature of the calculator, especially for younger individuals.”
Save on ‘gotta get it done’ yourself
UQ professor of infectious disease epidemiology Colleen Lau, who was involved in developing the modeling framework for the calculator, said it presented a risk-benefit analysis in a simple and interactive way, saving people “from having to solve it themselves”.
“You enter your age, your gender, the number of doses of vaccine you have and the rate of community transmission,” he said.
“It will calculate your risk of side effects from the vaccine versus your risk of catching, or dying, from COVID if you are not vaccinated.”
Professor Lau, from UQ’s School of Public Health, said although Queensland was relatively free of community transmission during the pandemic, this would not last once borders reopen to NSW, Victoria, the ACT and the world.
“It’s impossible to maintain zero transmission forever,” he said.
“And it takes time for the vaccine to work, so the sooner we get vaccinated, the better.”
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