Covid-19 tracing apps: UK’s tracking app continues to be a mess

3 days after official launch the UK’s contact tracing app is a mess:

  • Users who report symptoms but then get a negative test result still must isolate because there is no way to report a negative test result.
  • About one-third of the positive test results – any done at NHS basically – cannot be reported so that one’s contacts cannot then be alerted.
  • The app logs when you enter a venue – but not when you leave. Thus, you stop by a pub at 8 pm and leave at 8:15 pm. Some who then enters at 9 pm subsequently tests positive – so you are told you were in contact. This would be a “false contact”.

For reasons outlined months ago, I do not believe smart phone contact tracing will prove particularly useful. It has been a virtue signaling endeavor from the tech industry, with up to a 45% false positive rate.

Here’s the summary of the problems, quoted from a UK web site named “Lockdown skeptics”.

It only took three days for the NHS COVID-19 app to acquire a litany of problems.

Users cannot report negative test results because the app asks for a result code and negative tests don’t have a code. If you reported symptoms to the app when booking that test then your self isolation counter continues to count, even though you have a negative test.

How about positive tests? According to the @NHSCOVID19app twitter account responding to complaints: “If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative.” This shouldn’t be a surprise to the team building the app as they told us about it in their own documentation. But as this tweet from an incredulous user points out: “So if I get symptoms, and as an NHS nurse, get a test through work (because that’s the only way you can get a test these days), then if I am positive the app will not automatically alert my contacts? Same for a patient with a positive test?” That’s right, if you have your test done in an NHS hospital you cannot tell the NHS app about it.

The ludicrous levels of optimism around this app are evident in the twitter stream: “For every 1 to 2 people who download the app, an infection could be prevented.” Really? Could we see “the science” behind that please?

Meanwhile the venue check-in function doesn’t have a way of telling it when you leave a venue. That’s by design apparently: “You do not need to check out of a venue. Your phone will register when you check into somewhere new, and it will automatically check you out of your last venue at midnight.” So if I visit a venue for a few minutes at 9pm, then go home, and someone who later tests positive visits that venue at 10pm, I will be alerted and asked to isolate. No prizes for seeing the problem with that.Presumably this level of incompetence is all part of the new normal?

Source: Latest News – Lockdown Sceptics