How risk stratification can protect lives and improve public health during COVID-19

COVID-19 vaccines are here, but the pandemic isn’t over. As vaccine distribution efforts continue, it becomes even more important to assess the levels of risk in different populations. 

On a recent episode of the O’Neill and Associates podcast “OA on Healthcare,” Dr. David Katz and host Joe Alvianidiscussed the COVIDAge Risk Calculator (CARC) and explained why risk stratification data is so vital for public policy and individual action around COVID-19. 

Katz earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth, medical degree from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and master’s in public health from the Yale University School of Public Health. As an expert epidemiologist with decades of experience in preventative medicine and public health, Katz focuses on minimizing total harm from the pandemic. 

“This isn’t a one-size-fits-all threat,” said Katz.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted unprecedented division around public health policy. Some groups emphasize civil liberty and shun all COVID-related restrictions, an attitude Katz considers somewhat disrespectful to the magnitude of the pandemic’s danger. 

Others favor a full shutdown until vaccine distribution reaches an acceptable level. “That’s dismissive of the incredibly damaging potential of social determinants of health,” Katz said. 

He believes the pandemic response so far has had crucial blind spots, particularly the failure to think about a risk-stratified population and preventative measures to minimize individual risk. 

Everist Health’s CARC can help add clarity to both of these areas and use data to protect lives without sacrificing quality of life. 

“This tool uniquely offers detailed, drilled down, personalized risk to infection with SARS-CoV-2, and I see all sorts of tremendous advantages in that,” Katz explained in the interview.

Katz had previously worked with Everist Health on their Vascular Age Calculator™ (VAC), an online tool that uses biometric data to assess a person’s risk for developing cardiovascular disease. In the wake of the pandemic, Everist Health applied a similar approach to create the CARC. 

“Because it’s cardiovascular—or cardiometabolic, if you will—risk factors that are the most potent predictors of COVID outcomes, it was really an easy move for [Everist Health] to translate all of that information to a context that was also informed by the rapid aggregation of data over the last year about COVID outcomes,” said Katz on the podcast. “Everist has done the best work I’ve seen getting at that data.” 

Results from the CARC serve two primary purposes. First, they can help guide policy decisions and vaccine distribution. Rather than relying on age alone, public health entities can use the CARC’s more detailed risk stratification to determine the best strategies for vaccine distribution. This helps protect those most at risk first, regardless of biological age. 

Second, the CARC alerts individuals to their own risk factors related to COVID-19. Since these factors are largely modifiable, individuals can use that information to take action to reduce their risk. These actions might include increasing their Vitamin D levels through supplementation or reducing their body mass index through nutrition and activity. 

Learn more about how risk stratification with Everist Health’s CARC can add years to lives and life to years by listening to Episode 13 of “OA on Healthcare” on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Stitcher.

Chris Blue 
[email protected]

SOURCE Everist Health

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