Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

A COVID-19 risk calculator that allows people to assess their chances of catching the pandemic virus and dying from it, based on their age, sex, vaccination status and spread in the community, has been 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 of infection based on different transmission scenarios.

“You may also find out your chance of developing an atypical blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine and see this data for other related risks – such as being struck by lightning or winning OzLotto.”

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

It included input from GPs, doctors, public health doctors, epidemiologists and statisticians.

Calculator in the pilot phase

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

Kirsty Short
Dr. Short said the researchers planned to update the calculator to account for a person’s pre-existing medical conditions.(Delivered to: University of Queensland)

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

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

Dr. Short said the researchers planned to update the calculator to account for a person’s pre-existing medical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes — both known receptor risk factors for developing severe COVID-19.

Finally, it is hoped 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 care of, especially for younger individuals who may not be at high risk of dying if they get COVID-19, but Long COVID is a real threat, and it’s not something that anyone wants to have, “said Dr. Short.

“We’ll wait a bit until we get more reliable data, but … I think it’s an important feature of the calculator, especially for younger people.”

Saves ‘having to do it’ yourself

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

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

“It will calculate your risks of side effects from the vaccine versus your risks of staying or dying from COVID if you were not vaccinated.”

Professor Lau, from UQ’s School of Public Health, said that although Queensland had been relatively free of societal transfer during the pandemic, this would not last when the borders reopened for NSW, Victoria, ACT and the world.

“It’s not possible to maintain zero transfer forever,” she said.

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

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