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Aussie researchers have created a new COVID-19 Risk Calculator (CoRiCal) to help their fellow Australians to understand their personal risks of getting COVID-19.

The tool has been designed by the Immunisation Coalition and the University of Queensland and can be accessed through the Immunisation Coalition’s website.

It uses your age, gender, vaccination status, and the potential transmission scenario in your state to calculate your individual chance of contracting and dying from COVID-19.

Dr Kirsty Short, one of the co-lead researchers on the project, said the tool will allow users to understand their risk factors and make decisions.

“Maybe my risk of getting COVID-19 is such that I’ll put off going to the shops unless it’s absolutely essential,” Dr Short said.

“If this is my chance of catching COVID-19 in this particular transmission scenario, then [I] should be thinking in the back of my mind, I could be passing it on to everyone I love.”

Dr Andrew Baird, the second co-lead researcher on the project, said the tool will be especially useful for GPs to help them advise their patients regarding vaccination, potential side effects, and the severity of illness if they are infected.

“When patients present with apprehension or uncertainty about the risk of COVID-19 and the role of vaccination, it’s there as a tool to support them so that the GP and the patient can look at the screen together,” he told newsGP.

“The GP can demonstrate, ‘Here is your risk of developing COVID-19 if the level of transmission is high and here is your risk of developing COVID-19 if you’re vaccinated.

“And it’s shown in context so that we can say, ‘Here are the risks for getting COVID-19 and here are the risks for getting adverse effects from the vaccines.”

The site also presents a person’s chances of experiencing vaccine side effects, COVID-19 side effects, and dying from the virus in comparison to events with a similar chance of happening, such as being left-handed or winning the lottery.

“None of us are very good at understanding very low risks,” Dr Baird said.

“If we can just put it in some sort of context [to be] able to say, ‘The chances of getting blood clots from an AstraZeneca vaccine are about the same risks as getting struck by lightning’, people think ‘Well, getting struck by lightning, that’s pretty rare’.”

The tool is currently in its pilot stage and only includes data relating to the risks and benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, the researchers plan to continuously update the tool as the health advice changes, including information on booster shots, ICU admission, and long-COVID.

Dr Baird said he expects that the tool will include data on Pfizer and Moderna vaccinations in 2-4 weeks, and will include the likelihood a person will develop myocarditis and pericarditis.

These two conditions – where different areas of the heart become inflamed – have been reported to occur after Pfizer and Moderna vaccination, especially in male teenagers and young adults.

“The hard work has been done already, and will be continuously developed and updated according to needs and circumstances,” Dr Baird said.

He believes the tool could be crucial for helping Australia to reach and exceed its 80 percent vaccination target.

“It’s not the whole answer,” he said. “But it’s certainly an important part of assisting GPs in their conversations with patients.”

Image: Getty Images

This article first appeared on Over60.

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