Cookies

Like most websites The Pathologist uses cookies. In order to deliver a personalized, responsive service and to improve the site, we remember and store information about how you use it. Learn more.
Outside the Lab Training and education, Microbiology and immunology, COVID-19

Why Didn’t They Teach This in Med School?

How would you rate your understanding of epidemiologic terms? 

Reading about COVID-19, you may have encountered the four parameters mentioned in this question. Which one indicates the risk unit defined as one-in-a-million chance of death?

A. Micromort 
B. Microprobability  
C. R0
D. Rt

Read on to see the answer!

Answer: A. Micromort

Micromorts are used to measure the risk inherent in various daily activities. A microprobability is a one-in-a million chance of any given event; a micromort is the microprobability of death.

For an average American, the risk of dying of unnatural causes is one in a million per day, or one minimort (1). The risk of dying under general anesthesia is five per million, or five minimorts. For COVID-19, the exact micromort value cannot yet be calculated – and it depends on many variables.

R0, a measure of microbial spread, is defined as the expected number of secondary infectious cases produced by a primary infectious case. To control an epidemic, R0 must be brought below 1. Rt (the effective reproduction number) determines the potential for epidemic spread at a specific time t under the control measures in place. Social interaction during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has dramatically reduced Rt in many countries (2).

Receive content, products, events as well as relevant industry updates from The Pathologist and its sponsors.

When you click “Subscribe” we will email you a link, which you must click to verify the email address above and activate your subscription. If you do not receive this email, please contact us at [email protected].
If you wish to unsubscribe, you can update your preferences at any point.

  1. DC Roberts (2020). Available at: nyti.ms/3heEiEz. 
  2. TV Inglesby, JAMA, [Epub ahead of print] (2020). PMID: 32356869.
About the Author
Ivan Damjanov

Ivan Damjanov is Professor Emeritus of Pathology at the University of Kansas, Kansas City, USA.

Register to The Pathologist

Register to access our FREE online portfolio, request the magazine in print and manage your preferences.

You will benefit from:
  • Unlimited access to ALL articles
  • News, interviews & opinions from leading industry experts
  • Receive print (and PDF) copies of The Pathologist magazine

Register