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The coronavirus prevention app proved to be useless to prevent COVID

But it's a perfect surveillance tool after all!

29.May.21 9:32 AM
By Shawn Highstraw
Photo Wikipedia


The coronavirus prevention app proved to be useless to prevent COVID
The coronavirus prevention app caused a 0.3 percent decrease in R-value. This is clear from a Dutch RIVM study published on Friday on the effectiveness of the app. The somewhat comparable but manual source and contact research by the authorities reduced R by 6.4 percent.

The reproductive number R shows the extent to which the coronavirus spreads. If the number is 1.03, 100 people themselves infect 103 others. To fight the coronavirus, the lowest possible R is needed. For example, if the number is 0.93, 100 people infect 93 others.

From December to March, just over 7,500 people were infected after having been tested following a warning from CoronaMelder. RIVM estimates that this has prevented more than fifteen thousand new infections and more than two hundred hospital admissions.

In those four months, an estimated total of 1.8 million people became infected. RIVM concludes that CoronaMelder app made a positive but minimal contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.

CoronaMelder was put into national use in October. Anyone who receives a warning knows that he was in the vicinity of someone who was subsequently found infected. Since December, app Users can also be tested after a notification if they have no complaints.

The corona app was meant to complement the regular contact survey. In this investigation, the GGD is trying to find out who someone with the coronavirus has been in the vicinity. In this way, contacts that the infected person knows or can remember are particularly visible.

Because CoronaMelder exchanges signals with smartphones from other nearby users, the app can also alert unknown contacts. For example, people who have sat on the terrace for a long time next to the infected person.

In addition to the effect of CoronaMelder (0.3 percent) and regular source and contact research (6.4 percent), the test policy reduced R by 6 percent. Together, the three measures reduced the R-value by 12.7 percent.
The small number of users gets in the way of a bigger effect

The investigation took place at a time when the Netherlands was partially or completely in lockdown. This period is expected to end on 5 June.

RIVM estimates that the effect of the three measures on R will then decrease by 8.8 percent, of which 0.4 percent by CoronaMelder. One of the reasons for this is that people encounter more acquaintances as well as strangers due to relaxations. This reduces the effect of the manual GGD contact investigation.

In theory, the corona app can compensate for this if infected people can alert their contacts faster and significantly more people use the app, the researchers write. If not, the effect of the app will remain "low but steady".

It is estimated that 2.9 million people are currently using Coronavirus more widely, about two million less than the number of times the app has been downloaded. That's about 16 percent of the population.

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