February 22, 2024

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COVID-19 Risks Explained Via New Australian Online Tool

A calculator to help people understand their risk factors for COVID-19 infection and vaccination has been launched by the Immunisation Coalition in collaboration with Australian researchers. The tool’s three co-lead researchers are University of Queensland virologist Dr Kirsty Short, CoRiCal instigator from Flinders University Associate Professor John Litt and GP Dr Andrew Baird.

It was noted that Immunisation Coalition COVID-19 Risk Calculator (CoRiCal) was an online tool to support GPs and community members in their discussions about the benefits and risks of COVID-19 vaccines. It was designed to help people make an informed decision around vaccination based on their current circumstances and also see their risk for getting COVID-19 under different transmission scenarios.

Users can access the tool and input their age, sex, community transmission and vaccination status to find out their personalised risk calculation. For example, users can determine their chances of being infected with COVID-19 versus their chances of dying from the disease. They can also find out their chances of developing an atypical blood clot from the AstraZeneca vaccine and see this data in the context of other relatable risks – like getting struck by lightning or winning OzLotto, Dr Kirsty Short said.

The CoRiCal Covid Risk Calculator is in its pilot stage but will be continuously updated in line with the latest health and scientific advice, including risk assessments on Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, pre-existing medical conditions such as obesity and diabetes, and long COVID.

The CoRiCal project included a team of GPs, medical scientists, public health physicians, epidemiologists and statisticians. Associate Professor John Litt, Immunisation Coalition Scientific Advisory Committee member, said he hoped that CoRiCal would help GPs save time and create an accurate assessment of an individual’s risk of COVID-19 or one of the vaccines.

GPs are spending a lot of time trying to explain the risks of COVID-19 and the various vaccines to their patients, Dr Litt said. An accurate, evidence-based tool that is transparent and unaligned with professional groups should help GPs in their task of facilitating COVID vaccination for their patients.

A Melbourne-based stated that CoRiCal was adaptable for booster doses, new viral strains, new vaccines, younger age groups, international markets and even for other infectious diseases. It was noted that the tool presents risk using simple bar charts so that it’s easy to compare the risks for different outcomes related to COVID-19 and vaccines.

CoRiCal may help Australia to move towards 90%, 95%, or even more of the 16-and-over population being fully vaccinated. The higher the rate of vaccination in the population, the better it will be for individuals, communities, mental health, health services, and the country.

CoRiCal had been developed for GPs and other health professionals, it was important that people could easily access this information online without a consultation. The online tool is a collaboration between the Immunisation Coalition, UQ, Flinders University, La Trobe University, and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Risk calculations in CoRiCal are based on a modelling framework developed by UQ School of Public Health’s Professor Colleen Lau and Dr Helen Mayfield, and QUT’s Professor Kerrie Mengersen.

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