The European Apps for contact tracing

With the tentative implementation of a “new norm”, new waves of infection of Covid-19 have appeared all over the world, raising concerns for the whole healthcare community. There’s a consensus that tracing in order to detect contagion and traceability of the individuals that got in contact are essential to slow down the contagion, nevertheless, the scarcity of professionals to perform that job is still allowing new events to take place.

In order to help in this challenge, tech firms have once more come to help the healthcare service community, and various countries have created mobile apps – free and with guaranteed anonymity – and available in iOS and Android, that warn about risk of contagion, what allows to monitor individuals that have tested positive for coronavirus. We’ve listed here which ones are available and which countries do they cover.

Austria has been one of the first European countries to develop its own app that helps detect and rapidly interrupt chains of infection. Stopp Corona, available in German and English, issues a warning to those people that have been closer than 2 meters of distance for more than 15 minutes to someone that has been contaminated.

Corona Warn is the app created by the German government that warns individuals of their exposure to the risk of contagion. This app warns individuals if they’ve been in contact  for 15 minutes or more within less than 3 meters to one individual that has tested positive during the 14 days after the contact, and the app will rank the risk to a pre-established scale.

In Spain the Radar Covid app is available, at the present moment in just some communities, with the whole country expected to be included no sooner than September 15. The app works based on Bluetooth technology (and not geolocation). If one individual stays for longer than 15 minutes within less than 1.5 meters of another person, and this is diagnosed as positive for Covid -19, the system will notify the individual to alert about the exposure to contagion. In order to receive such notice, the individual that have tested positive have to input an alphanumeric code previously provided by the healthcare professionals.

Stop Covid is the app of the French Government to trace positive cases and track them. Similarly to other apps, it works based on Bluetooth technology instead of geolocation. This app send an alert to the individual that have ben in contact for more than 15 minutes and within one meter of distance of an individual that has tested positive so that they can self-isolate and also in line with other apps it does not disclose the identity of the person in order to preserve data protection protocols.

Italians have Inmuni, that have been in usage with great acceptance since June 15. Like other apps, when a download is completed each user is assigned a random number and in case such person gets in contact with another person for more than 15 minutes within less than 2 meters, a warning is sent.

The United Kingdom is another country that has been working for a while to creates its own app but the first tentative has been abandoned due to some issues related to date protection and errors in determining the distance between individuals.

Even thought it is known that those apps are not the final answer in terms of avoiding new waves of contagion (let’s not forget that it is not everyone that has a smartphone and that some positive and responsible intervention is required from the individuals to communicate their cases and to alert of their exposure), they do represent another initiative that, coupled with the work of human trackers and the execution of exhaustive testing, it will allow the narrowing of new contagion, that is key to avoid an out-of-control second wave.

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