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Can COVID-19 contact tracking apps stop the spread?

Can COVID-19 contact tracking apps stop the spread?

While experts recommend contact tracking apps only as an additional aid, new research suggests that apps as such can help reduce the spread of the virus, even if few use it.

The usefulness of contact tracking apps has been a controversial topic since the pandemic that paralyzed the global economy. It is particularly difficult for the application as such to violate privacy.

However, a new study shows that contact tracking apps can significantly slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the coronavirus.

Contact tracking apps can contain the spread

A study published by a team of researchers at Oxford University and Google found that 15% use of contact tracking applications alone could reduce death rates by 6%, while infections could decrease by 8%. Reuters Reports.

On the other hand, according to separate statistics presented by the Oxford Nuffield Department of Medicine and the Alphabet Inc. Unit, infection and mortality rates could be reduced by 15% and 11%, respectively.

However, this is the case when the app is used by 15% of the population and with the help of a well-staffed contact tracing team.

Can COVID-19 contact tracking apps stop the spread?

“We see all levels of exposure notification ingestion in the UK and US have the potential to significantly reduce the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the population,” said study co-lead author Christopher Fraser. said in a statement.

The study is based on data collected by a digital tracking system similar to one that Apple Inc. and Google recently created.

Digital tracking systems as a support

However, the authors of this research found that contact tracking apps are not a stand-alone solution. And that the model in question is rather a “dramatic simplification of the real world”.

Also not included is the cross-country movement of people, which contributes to the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

A separate study by the University College of London also emphasized that while digital traceability systems are useful, such applications cannot replace, but complement, manual traceability by human workforce.

A systematic review of 15 studies also points to the same conclusion, emphasizing the help of mass testing, social distancing, and manual contact tracing for it to be efficient.

Additionally, UCL’s Robert Aldridge asked for further investigation into the many COVID-19 contact tracing apps that governments have and will launch shortly.

“We urgently need to investigate this evidence gap and how automated approaches can be integrated into existing contact tracing and disease control strategies,” Aldridge told per MIT Technology Review.

The research published by Oxford University and Google was also not peer-reviewed.

Images courtesy of Daria Shevtsova, Zydeaosika / Pexels

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