UPDATE: The creator of the coronavirus calculator explains below why he made the tool, and why he wants other people to help him make it better.
Just in case you needed more bad news, someone has posted an online calculator to tell you how likely you are to die from the coronavirus (opens in new tab).
Are you a 65-year-old American male with minor pre-existing medical conditions who lives in the Northeast or the upper Midwest, and are you not altering your social behavior or hygiene practices? You've got a 1-in-468 chance of dying from the coronavirus, aka COVID-19, according to the online calculator.
But if you're a 25-year-old woman who lives in Florida and has no existing preconditions, and you're minimizing your social contacts and practicing good hygiene, then your chances of being killed by the coronavirus are only 1 in 7,349.
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Both those results assume that 10% of the population will get infected with the coronavirus, that 2% of those infected will die, and that most locations in the United States have an average level of health-care preparedness for a widespread pandemic.
All those assumptions are subject to change, and you can adjust them in the calculator using sliding scales. There are nine total parameters: age, preconditions, social contact, hygiene, gender, health services, climate, population infection rate and infection fatality rate.
A couple of the choices are binary: You can choose either male or female, and a warm or a cold climate.
Your pre-existing medical conditions can be either "None", "Minor" or "Major," and your hygiene and the quality of your local health services can be either "Good," "Average" or "Poor." Age, social contact, and the COVID-19 infection and fatality rates are more granular.
Some of the categories could use a little more explanation. Each has a brief sentence or paragraph pop up on the screen when you click on a sliding scale, but for the one about pre-existing conditions, it's not clear whether diabetes or heart disease should be considered "minor" or "major." Likewise, it's unlikely anyone would consider themselves as having "poor" hygiene without some examples.
If you don't like the results, or you want to add or change categories, you can edit a local version of the calculator in a separate web page (opens in new tab). We added "Massive" as a sixth setting to the amount of social contact our hypothetical test subject would have and saw it display in a separate frame.
That edit didn't change the results on the actual website, but there's a link to email the site's creator with suggestions. We sent a bunch of questions about the site to that email address and will update this story when we receive a reply.
'A better calculation'
UPDATE: The creator of the coronavirus calculator told us that he's Ben Albahari, a software developer living in London.
Albahari said he wrote the tool because "some people are saying it's the apocalypse, others that there's nothing to worry about."
"Risk should be expressed as a number, not a feeling," he added. "And it needs to be personalized, as not everyone has the same risk."
Those risk probabilities are "just using a ballpark calculation for now," Albahari said. He said he had no medical training or background, but that was "why I made the calculator source completely open -- I'd like others who know much more than me to suggest a better calculation."