FSO draws conclusion on the SwissCovid app

The SwissCovid app has made an important contribution to covid control, but it has not been able to develop its full potential. This is the conclusion reached by the Swiss Federal Statistical Office after evaluating the monitoring figures for the app.

SwissCovid
(Image: Unsplash/Pascal Brändle)

The Swiss population downloaded the SwissCovid app 3.8 million times. This applies to the period from the app's launch on June 25, 2020, until its temporary deactivation on April 1, 2022. However, only around 1.7 million apps were active on average every day, according to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO). In an overview of the app's use, the Federal Office concludes that the app was not able to develop its full potential, but that it can provide valuable support in pandemic situations.

According to the report, contact tracing is effective if the app is widely accepted in the population, is used, and the time between infection and contact restriction is thereby reduced to such an extent that chains of infection are interrupted in good time. The FSO compared the resulting relevant factors of acceptance, use and contact tracing with its figures for the SwissCovid app.

Acceptance, usage and contact tracking with SwissCovid

In the area of acceptance, the SwissCovid app has some catching up to do, as the figure of 3.8 million downloads shows. This does not take into account multiple downloads, such as when someone has bought a new smartphone and therefore installed the app again. The FSO assumes that the SwissCovid app has not reached around half of the adult Swiss population.

In terms of usage, only around 1.7 million of the 3.8 million downloaded apps were active on average. However, users also used the app regardless of the epidemiological situation, i.e. even during periods with relatively low case numbers. This indicates that people used the app sustainably once they had decided to do so.

The FSO measured contact tracking by the average time it took for users to enter a Covid code into the app after receiving it. Overall, the population entered 206,443 Covid codes by April 1, 2022 - 49 percent of them within two days of symptom onset. This time period maps the app's potential to break chains of infection, according to the report. Any factors that extend this period indicate opportunities for improvement.

Conclusion

The SwissCovid app provides the basic requirements for an application that can be used in everyday life with no particular additional effort, as the FSO concludes. The evaluation of the SwissCovid app monitoring 2020-2022 shows that the app found substantial, but not maximum possible acceptance and use.

In particular, the delays between symptom onset and Covid code entry would provide insightful information about the app's potential to break infection chains. "If the potential of the SwissCovid app can be exploited, valuable time can be gained to contain the growth of infection numbers and break the momentum of a pandemic," the report says. (Kevin Fischer/jor)


This article was first published in Netzwoche.

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