Coronavirus: Tracking app goals for a million downloads

Covid-19 app
Image caption The app is offered on Apple’s app retailer and Google Play

An app that tracks the signs of Covid-19 within the UK has develop into one of the well-liked downloads.

Its creators purpose to ship insights into why some folks get the illness extra severely than others.

They additionally hope to create a map displaying the place outbreaks are taking place, and assist distinguish circumstances from these of the frequent chilly.

It is certainly one of many such new apps. Experts have warned folks to be cautious about which they obtain.

At current, Covid Symptom Tracker is the third-most well-liked app in Apple’s UK retailer and second in Google Play’s new releases chart for the nation.

Its builders are concentrating on a million downloads in 24 hours.

The program has been shared hundreds of occasions through WhatsApp and different social media platforms.

Created in simply three days, it has already reached 750,000 downloads, and based on its builders is being put in at a charge of 50,000 occasions an hour.

It was created by researchers at Guy’s & St Thomas’ hospitals and King’s College London college, along side the vitamin recommendation start-up Zoe.

The app was the brainchild of Prof Tim Spector, a genetic epidemiologist at King’s College, who has specialised within the genetics and medical histories of twins for the previous 25 years.

“I was rather depressed as they were shutting down everything in the university, and I thought that twins are the best studied people in the country so how can we use that information in this crisis?” he advised the BBC.

Initially the app was solely made out there to the twins who had been collaborating in his research, who had been despatched a home-testing equipment to higher perceive which signs corresponded to the coronavirus an infection.

But the professor realised it might be scaled as much as most of the people, with out the testing factor.

“The NHS hasn’t come up with a better alternative and this app seems to be working. We are hoping to get to one million downloads by the end of the day and we will also be ready to release data by then for the NHS, data modellers and researchers to play with,” he mentioned.

The software program requires customers to share private particulars, together with their age, top and medical historical past. It asks folks to explain signs, if they’ve any, each day in addition to to present a temperature studying.

Prof Spector mentioned it might probably assist the NHS:

  • find out how quick the virus is spreading in a selected space, in addition to highlighting high-risk components of the nation
  • higher perceive the signs, together with the variations between these of the virus and the frequent chilly
  • clarify why some folks develop a light sickness whereas others develop into critically unwell

A spokeswoman for Zoe advised the BBC that every one shared knowledge could be anonymised, and that no knowledge shared within the app could be used for any industrial function. She added that customers might delete all their data when the disaster was over.

As spam and malware skyrocket on the again of the pandemic, one professional mentioned folks could be sensible to be cautious about downloading different apps purporting to assist in sort out coronavirus.

“I am concerned by the rash of websites and apps intended to allow people to report of their Covid-19 symptoms,” mentioned privateness professional Pat Walshe.

“I’ve discovered it troublesome or inconceivable to find out who’s behind a lot of them. They don’t undertake applicable requirements of compliance with knowledge safety regulation and I see doubtful ethics.

“Could an app help? Yes, possibly. But I think we need the NHS to coordinate it in order to provide confidence, trust and protection.”

Prof Spector agrees that folks must be cautious.

“There are lots of scams out there and bogus things trying to get your details,” he mentioned.

People wishing to obtain the Covid-19 tracker can accomplish that from Apple and Google’s app shops.