Australian researchers develop an online tool to assess COVID-19 risk

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SYDNEY, October 25 (Xinhua) — Researchers from several Australian universities have developed an online tool that can predict an individual’s risks associated with COVID-19 and vaccines.

The tool, called CoRiCal (COVID Risk Calculator) and made public on Monday, was developed in collaboration between the nonprofit Coalition on Immunization and researchers from the University of Queensland (UQ) and Flinders University.

Associate lead researcher and UQ virologist Dr Kirsty Short said the online tool will provide a springboard for doctors and community members to discuss the benefits and risks of COVID-19 vaccines.

“Users can access the tool and enter their age, gender, community transmission and vaccination status to learn personalized risk calculations,” Short said.

After completing the basic information, the user is shown the chance of contracting COVID-19, the chance of dying, and the chance of getting the very rare blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The results are then visualized on a graph and compared to the chances of other occurrences.

For men aged 20-29, the chance of developing a blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine is 0.09 per 1 million; that’s compared to the odds of dying in a car accident in a year in Australia – 56 per 1 million.

Colleen Lau, one of the main developers of CoRiCal and professor of Public Health at UQ, told Xinhua that “associative risk” is key when it comes to risk communication.

“If you put [risk] In the context of something they can relate to, he said, ‘Okay, well, if I’m happy to take that risk every day, like driving a car or skydiving, then the amount of risk vaccine is even less than that.

He said the tool also gives people insight into future risks as outbreaks develop, especially in places like Queensland, where transmission is currently close to zero.

“So the decision to get vaccinated shouldn’t just be based on ‘oh, we don’t have any contagion right now.’ It should be based on what might happen as we reopen in the next few weeks or the next few months,” Lau said.

He said the tool will continually evolve as situations change and new research emerges.

The team is currently working to add data on the Pfizer vaccine over the next few weeks.

Further down the road, the team plans to add a way to account for an individual’s pre-existing health conditions and chances of developing long-term COVID-19.

“Knowledge is still evolving pretty quickly. So we have to wait until we really have the evidence.”

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