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How The COVID-19 Exposure Notification App Could Have Contributed To The Second Wave

The COVID-19 exposure notification app used in England and Wales has potentially aided the second wave of the pandemic as it didn’t warn users when they were in close contact with potentially infectious COVID-19 patients.


This failure, means that thousands of people who should have been told to quarantine were not. This is according to the Sunday Times, which first reported the flaw with the exposure notification app.


The COVID-19 exposure notification app has had 19 million downloads since its launch on 24th September 2020. It uses Google and Apple’s Bluetooth Low Energy-based system to monitors phones in its proximity. Then, it will alert the phone owner after coming in contact with anyone who tests positive for the virus.

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The app engineers explained why the app failed to notify as many people as it should have. They say it was built to alert anyone closer than 2 meters for over 15 minutes to someone who later tests positive. But, just before its launch, the app was adjusted to consider when the sick person’s symptoms began.


However, people tend to have high levels of the virus in their nose and throat, which may be more contagious, around a day before they show symptoms and may reduce a few days after showing the initial symptoms, according to researchers.


Thus, the app didn’t trigger the alert if the person has contact with a sick person outside that window, as it considers the interaction less risky. But, contact inside of that window, would only take just three minutes of contact to trigger an alert. The engineering team found the error after making an update to the app which they have rectified.


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Kolawole Awolope

Passionate about talking, passionate about talking tech.

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