Looking at the Covid-19 Pandemic through the Lens of Risk Analysis

January 2021

SPT - 2021 Jan Video


Quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) has been used for nearly 40 years to assess risks from human pathogen exposures and to make decisions leading to risk reduction. It has been used in water safety, bioterrorism, food protection and other contexts. Its’ elements of dose-response analysis, exposure assessment and risk characterization have insights into understanding the COVID-19 pandemic, and to highlight data gaps that need to be answered as the pandemic proceeds. QMRA deprecates long entrenched concepts such as “minimal infectious dose”.

An overview of QMRA will be presented. What we know or can infer to use QMRA in this context will be reviewed.

This can be used to answer such salient questions as: 

  • Based on the recognition of expelled air particles as a key route for transmission in the community setting, what are the implications for ventilation in indoor spaces and physical distancing (including the 6 foot/15 minute framework)? 
  • What are the issues with interpreting RNA measurements from a health risk point of view? 
  • How can we develop guidance for “how clean is clean”? 
  • What about fomites? 

The application of formal QMRA highlights key data that need to be refined. However in the absence of perfect information, useful inferences can still be drawn. In the context of COVID-19, the application of QMRA will lead to more informed decisions. 


Co-hosted with The Big Data Institute at
The University of Oxford

Meet the Speaker


Charles N. Haas, PhD

LD Betz Professor of Environmental Engineering Department of Civil, Architectural & Environmental Engineering at Drexel University

Throughout his career, Professor Charles N. Haas has specialized in the assessment of risk from and control of human exposure to pathogenic microorganisms, and in particular the treatment of water... Read more


Coordinating Committee Co-Chairs

Joanna Masel, PhD

Professor of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at The University of Arizona

Luca Ferretti, PhD

Senior Researcher in Statistical Genetics and Pathogen DynamicsBig Data Institute, The University of Oxford

Webinars On-Demand

Watch recordings of past events, anytime. Contributors include leading experts in exposure science, epidemiology, virology, public health, infectious disease, privacy, cybersecurity, and more.

“Last week’s event was awesome! There were 5 from my department that attended as well, they also wrote to say how much they enjoyed the debate."

Get the Newsletter

Join future events and get the latest WeHealth news and insights.