Only 6% of positive cases are notified to the Covid tracker application

ByLance T. Lee

Oct 28, 2021

Despite growing concern over the surge in Covid-19 cases, only 6% of positive cases are notified by the Covid Tracker app.

So few positive cases are now notified through the app, which was launched in July 2020, that the overall viability of the project has been called into question.

Between September and October 2021, only 571 positive cases were notified – i.e. all close contacts automatically uploaded to the HSE by the user – by the app, according to HSE’s own data gathered by Stephen Farrell and Doug Leith of the School of Trinity College. science and statistics.

Based on HSE’s own usage figures for the app, which stands at 1.3 million users, at least 10,455 cases could or should have been downloaded in September, suggesting a shortfall of 94% expected cases.

The notification deficit has increased since October 2020, when it was 56%. Between January and July of this year, the figure was between 85% and 86%, before rising to 92% in August 2021 as the latest wave of coronavirus began to take hold.

Irish Civil Liberties Council politician Olga Cronin said although her organization had “welcomed the good faith efforts” of the HSE and the Department of Health in releasing the source code for the app ahead of its release. creation, there was nonetheless “no public data or evidence that the HSE application would work.”

“We still have not seen any evidence that the Covid Tracker app has helped curb the transmission of Covid-19,” Ms. Cronin said.

“Our right to privacy should not be sacrificed in the name of a technological solution, and if such a so-called solution is ineffective, it should be removed. Otherwise, the deployment of inefficient technologies will erode public trust and undermine future efforts to implement solutions, ”she added.

The HSE had not responded to a request for comment on this issue at the time of publication.

The initial Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) for the Covid Tracker said an assessment of the effectiveness of the application could take place no earlier than six months after its deployment, with criteria for assessment such as number of contacts identified, levels of use and prevalence of Covid-19.

It is not yet known whether such a review has already taken place.

“You would probably imagine the HSE would know that this doesn’t work particularly well,” Stephen Farrell told the Irish Examiner. “But this is not a particularly new trend. The app was not working well six months ago either, ”he said.

The Covid Tracker was given an additional focus earlier this summer when an option was created to download a user’s vaccine certificate for easy access.

The app, one of many bluetooth-dependent solutions created by separate countries to deal with the first months of the pandemic, had a baptism of fire in August 2020 when it was revealed that it had been deleted over 500,000 times, mostly due to an issue on the Android version that saw phones drain quickly, leading to a wave of uninstalls.

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