Online tool shows COVID-19 danger levels in British Columbia

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The online resource collates public health information about COVID-19 and attempts to condense it into a risk assessment tool for the public.

A website called COVID-19 Resources Canada aims to provide Canadians with up-to-date information, including a provincial “risk index” on the ongoing pandemic as health officials warn of an impending wave of infections this fall.

Among the new tools launched by the voluntary public health group is the Canadian COVID-19 Risk Index, which helps Canadians understand the risk of infection in each province.

Without widespread testing, the index is calculated from four equally weighted categories: vaccine protection, current infections and spread, health system impact, and mortality.

Omicron variant infection estimates are said to predict more severe outcomes reported in the public health sector.

The index also notes the estimated daily and cumulative hospitalization costs due to the virus.

Currently, COVID-19 hospitalizations have cost Canada $4.6 billion – calculated using the average Canadian hospitalization and intensive care unit admission costs for COVID-19 reported by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

“CIHI estimates that the cost of an average COVID hospitalization is three times the cost of a heart attack, and about the same as a kidney transplant. We reduced the CIHI-estimated hospitalization costs used in our estimates by 27%, to account for the shorter average length of hospitalizations for Omicron compared to the pre-Omicron variants reported by the [USCDC]”, reads the index.

The index has many caveats and footnotes related to the simplified data it presents, due to the under-reporting of certain factors by provincial health authorities and the different measures used by provinces.

The group is staunchly pro-vaccine and recognizes the most extreme risks COVID-19 poses to older adults.

“One in 457 unvaccinated children aged 0-11 is hospitalized if infected with Omicron, but one in 1,905 children in this age group infected with Omicron will be hospitalized if they receive two doses of vaccine.

“Unvaccinated children under the age of 11 have about the same risk of Omicron ICU admission as people aged 40 to 59 who have received a fourth dose of vaccine within the past three months. “

The website also has an excess mortality tracking tool. In British Columbia, excess mortality has increased by 22.3% since February 2020.

The online website is led by Dr. Guillaume Bourque, Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and Director of Bioinformatics at the McGill Genome Center and Dr. Tara Moriarty, from the Faculties of Dentistry and Laboratory Medicine of Medicine and Pathobiology from the University of Toronto.

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