Even a low take-up of con­tact-trac­ing app can curb Covid

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Technology Intelligen­ce - By Hasan Chowd­hury

A RISE in coro­n­avirus cases can be curbed even with low up­takes of a con­tact trac­ing app, of­fer­ing sup­port to dig­i­tal trac­ing ef­forts pushed by gov­ern­ments glob­ally, ac­cord­ing to re­searchers at Google and Ox­ford Univer­sity.

A study un­der­taken in three coun­ties in the US state of Wash­ing­ton found that an up­take of a con­tact trac­ing app as low as 15pc could re­duce in­fec­tions by up to 15pc and deaths by 11pc when paired with a “well-staffed” man­ual con­tact trac­ing work­force.

Re­searchers also found that the higher the up­take of con­tact trac­ing, the greater the im­pact on keep­ing Covid-19 in­fec­tions down, with a 75pc adop­tion re­duc­ing deaths by al­most 80pc. This con­tra­dicts pre­vi­ous ad­vice that con­tact trac­ing apps need at least a 60pc adop­tion rate to be ef­fec­tive.

Prof Christophe Fraser, a co-au­thor of the re­search and sci­en­tific ad­viser to the UK gov­ern­ment’s test and trace pro­gramme, said the find­ings sug­gest an app should be used along­side mea­sures such as so­cial dis­tanc­ing un­til Covid-19 is “un­der con­trol”.

Tri­als of a NHS con­tact trac­ing app based on de­cen­tralised Google-Ap­ple tech­nol­ogy started last month.

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