The latest figures were revealed yesterday by Dr Geraint Lewis, NHS England’s chief data officer. He said he was “overwhelmed” by the Isle of Wight’s response to the new contact tracing app.
Introduced last week to the Isle of Wight, in a trial period, more than 55,000 residents have downloaded the app to take part, with experts saying the number continues to rise.
Dr Lewis said the Island has been very supportive of the app, helping the team behind it learn and improve as they go along — and, as far as they could tell, there has been no evidence of malicious or mischievous use of the app, such as people reporting symptoms they don’t have.
“We have taken advice from experts on design all the way through this process and that includes the wording in the app — so experts of behavioural science can appeal to people’s better nature and to nudge them into behaving properly and responsibly.”
With the app, users download it to their phone and go about their day. Only if another app user, who has been near enough for the phones to match, reports symptoms and requests a test, is an alert sent to tell them to self-isolate.
The app does not track the user’s location, only how far away it has been from another phone with the app installed.
However, there is no way of knowing whether all the downloads of the app have happened on the Island.
Dr Lewis said:
“We do not know for sure that all of these people are Islanders because the app does not track your location but the profile of how and when people started downloading gives me confidence that the vast, vast majority of what we are seeing is Islanders.
“It is phenomenal when you remember some people haven’t received their letters yet and they are going out on Monday as well.
“The bottom line is the more people use the app, the better it will be at saving lives and protecting the NHS.”
Bob Seely, the Isle of Wight’s MP, broke down the figures as a ‘rule of thumb’, saying a potential 80,000 people on the Island could download the app and use it after taking away children, those who do not have smart phones or those that are not compatible with the app.
“The 50,000 mark is between 50 and 60 per cent, probably, and that will continue to climb up at least. The evidence suggests we are looking at an incredibly strong showing on the Island.”
To download the app, as an Island resident, or to provide feedback, visit https://www.covid19.nhs.uk/.