Young woman with a face mask using her phone

Over 1.7 million contacts reached by NHS Covid-19 app

The NHS Covid-19 app was highly-anticipated as a key step in helping break chains of transmission of the virus, and after multiple trials and a widespread launch back in September 2020, the app has now contacted more than 1.7 million people around the country.

Using newly-published data, the NHS has been able to estimate around 600,000 potential cases of Covid-19 have been prevented by the app.

Set up to notify people if they have been at risk of contracting the virus, having come in close contact with somebody who has tested positive, the app has been downloaded more than 21.5 million times.

This figure represents more than half of the eligible population aged 16 and over with a smartphone.

The more people who download the app, the better it can work at identify close contacts of those who test positive for the virus. Researchers from The Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University found that for every 1% increase in app users, the number of coronavirus cases in the population can be reduced by 2.3%.

Close contacts of those who have tested positive are able to be notified as quickly as 15 minutes after an app user enters a positive result into the system. This makes it the fastest way of notify the public if they are at heightened risk and need to take self-isolation measures.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The NHS Covid-19 app is an important tool in our pandemic response.

“We know it has instructed hundreds of thousands of at-risk people to self-isolate since it launched in September – including me – and this analysis shows it has been hugely effective at breaking chains of transmission, preventing an estimated 600,000 cases.

“Isolating and knowing when you have been at risk of catching coronavirus is essential to stopping the spread of this virus, and the app is the quickest way to notify you if you are at risk.

“I want to thank all those who have played their part by downloading and using the app, and urge those who haven’t to take the simple step to protect your communities and loved ones and download it.”

Director of Product for the NHS Covid-19 app, Gaby Appleton, added: “It is great that over 56% of the eligible population have already downloaded the NHS Covid-19 app.

“The more people who download the app the better it works, and now more than ever every new user makes a difference.

“For every 1% of additional users who download the app, we can potentially reduce the number of cases in the community by up to 2.3%.

“If you have already downloaded the app, I would like to thank you for helping to keep your loved ones safe, and please check that you always have the latest version of the app downloaded, as we make ongoing improvements to the app to help keep people even safer.”

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