...By Henry George for TDPel Media.
NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app, which caused significant disruption due to the “pingdemic” will be shut down from Thursday.
The service, which alerted almost two million people about potential Covid-19 exposure and asked them to self-isolate, has seen a sharp decline in its usage over the past few months.
The app notified close contacts about their possible exposure to the virus after the people registered their positive Covid-19 tests.
As a result of the alert, the people were directed to self-isolate, which contributed to a severe workforce crisis in sectors like transportation, healthcare, and hospitality.
According to the UK government, the NHS Covid-19 app’s active usage has been steadily decreasing since July 2021. As a result, fewer notifications have been sent to close contacts.
However, some clinically vulnerable individuals have raised concerns about the app’s closure.
Imogen Dempsey, who is clinically ill, said that stopping recording Covid-19 cases and ignoring the pandemic isn’t a public health strategy.
The technology behind the NHS Covid-19 app will be used to fight future pandemics, even though the app is being closed.
The app used a smartphone’s Bluetooth signals to estimate when people came into close contact with others, quantifying close contact as spending around 15 minutes within two metres of each other.
Despite being downloaded over 31 million times since its launch, only just over 100,000 downloads took place in 2023.
Experts at the University of Oxford and the University of Warwick have previously estimated that the app prevented around 44,000 hospitalisations and 9,600 deaths during its first year of operation.
However, declining usage of the app in the past few months has led to its closure.
Since the success of the UK vaccination program, high immunity in the population and access to treatments, the government can target its coronavirus services.
The UK government will continue to provide government-funded testing, vaccinations, and treatments for people at the highest risk from the virus.
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