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NHS COVID-19 app averted 1.4 million cases and 13,000 deaths in first year



The NHS COVID-19 app averted up to 1.4 million cases of Covid and at least 9,600 deaths in its first year through its contact tracing function alone, according to new research published in Nature.

The app, which was downloaded 31 million times during the course of the pandemic, is due to be retired tomorrow (Thursday).

The research covers the year starting September 24, 2020 when the app was launched, including the second and subsequent main waves and lockdowns.

During this period, there were 95,485 Covid-related deaths and 6.5 million cases in England and Wales.

This means the app reduced the number of deaths by around 9 per cent and the number of cases by around 13 per cent.

Wolfgang Emmerich, CEO of Zühlke UK who developed the app, said:

“Everyone involved is hugely proud of the number of lives saved, and also the million cases averted given the long-term suffering the disease causes many who contract it.

‘The app was developed in just 12 weeks by a global team of 75 of our best people, including our product and design team, who ensured usability and uptake, architects who know how to design secure systems that can scale, and software engineers who developed and tested effectively to ensure its high quality.”  

The NHS COVID-19 app is being retired as part of a larger move encouraging people to ‘learn to live with the virus.’

Announcing the closure last month, the Government said:

“The number of people actively using the NHS COVID-19 app has steadily reduced since July 2021.

“Since access to government-funded testing ended for most people, fewer positive test results have been entered in the app and, as a result, fewer notifications have been sent to close contacts.”

Some clinically-vulnerable people have raised concerns about the shuttering of the app.

Imogen Dempsey who is clinically ill, told Sky News:

“Everybody is tired and fed up and could do without having to talk about Covid anymore.

“[But] for people like me, the fact that we still need to think about being so careful and our lives are still so much on hold, absolutely we’d like things to be different – but they’re not.

“Covid hasn’t gone away, and stopping recording it and trying to ignore it isn’t actually a public health strategy.”

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