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NHS COVID-19 app closes after two-and-a-half years of use

With user numbers steadily dwindling, the NHS COVID-19 app has officially closed down today, marking a significant milestone in post-pandemic life in the UK.

Originally launched in September 2020, the app was a staple of British life throughout the pandemic and has helped curb millions of infections over its lifespan.

Earlier this year, analysis from the Universities of Oxford and Warwick revealed that, in its first year alone, the app curtailed nearly 10,000 deaths, 44,000 hospitalisations and around one million COVID-19 cases.

The researchers also found that, unlike similar apps across the continent, the health service’s app maintained high user engagement in its first year, with more than 10 million people downloading it across England and Wales within only the first few days of its launch.

The research paper’s senior author, Professor Christophe Fraser of the University of Oxford, said that the study proved the “NHS COVID-19 app worked, and it worked well”.

Noting the app specifically, the UK Health Security Agency’s chief scientific officer, Dr Isabel Oliver, said the lessons from the pandemic will inform preparedness for future pandemics.

Even as the app does close though, and the pandemic appears smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirror, the knock-on effects are still being felt throughout the entirety of the NHS, with pandemic-induced backlogs and workforce disputes still prominent issues in the health service’s zeitgeist.

Nevertheless, the NHS continues to work tirelessly to cut waiting lists, meet national targets and deliver world-class patient care.

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NHE May/June 2024

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