Corona-Warnapp proves effective according to initial studies

Quickly alerting contacts and relieving the burden of manual contact tracing: these are the advantages of the Swiss Covid app. It makes an important contribution to pandemic control, as Viktor von Wyl, UZH Professor of Digital and Mobile Health, writes in an article. But the digital tool also harbours some pitfalls.

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Swiss researchers analysed the effectiveness of the Swiss Covid app, which is currently used by over 1.8 million people, in several studies. One of the studies is based on people who were identified as contacts of infected persons by the contact tracing of the Canton of Zurich. This showed that contacts with a risk of infection outside their own household quarantined themselves about a day earlier if they received an alert from the app - compared to people without an alert.

Even though one day may seem like little, according to various models this can have an influence on the course of the pandemic, says von Wyl. In the case of contacts from the same household, however, there is no difference due to short communication paths.

 

30 possible infection chains interrupted

In a second study, the researchers showed that in the month of September, around 170 contacts warned by the app in the canton of Zurich received a quarantine recommendation. This corresponds to around five per cent of all people who were given a mandatory quarantine by classic contact tracing.

In addition, 30 contact persons tested positive for the coronavirus after an app warning. Accordingly, 30 possible chains of infection were broken within one month.

 

Bottleneck: Covid codes

However, it turned out that one in three people infected with the coronavirus did not trigger a warning via app. The reason: according to von Wyl, there were repeated delays in issuing the so-called Covid codes. Since all doctors are now allowed to issue such codes, thus relieving the cantonal health authorities, this problem could be reduced. Rapid antigen tests also help to speed up the warning cascade.

In order for the warning app to be even more effective, it is important that more people use it, von Wyl concluded. He hopes that these initial, encouraging studies will help to ensure that previously hesitant sections of the population now give the app a chance. (SDA)

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