Apps and human tracers both have pros and cons. To be effective, they have to work together.
A study of more than a half-million people in India who were exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 suggests that the virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected.
Furthermore, children and young adults were found to be potentially much more important to transmitting the virus — especially within households — than previous studies have identified,
America’s contact tracing effort is being hampered by poor data, low trust in public health authorities, and a fragmented workforce.
Despite predictions that between 67.5% and 85.5% of potential app users would download apps, worldwide download rates of contact-tracing apps have so far been low, running approximately at 20%. In Germany it has been around 21%, in Italy 14%, in France just 3%. Iceland and Singapore, which was one of the first to launch an app, have the highest download rates to date at 40%.
To safely begin reopening the economy, America will need to rely on so-called disease detectives to track the novel coronavirus and contain new emerging outbreaks before they grow out of control.
This work, known as “contact tracing,” is critical for state plans to relax social distancing without inviting a sudden resurgence of Covid-19 cases. All the various plans to ease social distancing restrictions rely on this work.
he U.S. and Europe struggle to identify where coronavirus infections are occurring, making it hard to impose targeted restrictions.
The lack of a national plan on contact tracing has resulted in a state-by-state patchwork of differing technological tools.
Contact tracing works almost everywhere else. Why not here!
By now you’ve heard a lot about contact tracing as it applies to public health. The idea is that the spread of Covid-19 can be stopped if everyone who has come in contact with someone infected with the virus isolates themselves until they’re sure whether they are also infected. Contact tracing also works in a business setting, and if it’s done thoughtfully, can allow the business to keep operating even if people who work there have to isolate themselves at home.
With problem after problem besetting the app and no government data, it’s hard to know how long public faith in the app will last.
The reason contact tracing apps will fail us is simple: Adoption rates will be low. If we cannot reach critical mass, the technology will not be useful and will become another piece of “bloatware,” ensuring a public skeptical of contact tracing technology altogether.
Why is the US so bad at tracing Covid-19 contacts?
Despite this near-universal praise, when you focus on the actual purpose of the app, rather than on its elegant design, red flags start popping up everywhere.
The design and rollout of the app all suggest that considerations of the app’s medical effectiveness have been secondary to its technical design.
Inadequate testing and protracted delays in producing results have crippled tracking and hampered efforts to contain major outbreaks.
Spam calls and scammers are more than annoying; they’re hindering efforts to track the coronavirus.
The United States has more than 50,000 contact tracers for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to a survey of states conducted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in collaboration with NPR.
The total number of contact tracers reported in all U.S. states and territories was 53,116. That's four times the number of contact tracers states reported to NPR in its initial survey in late April, but it falls far short of the more than 100,000 that public health experts have been calling for since the pandemic began seven months ago.
For contact-tracing to be effective, at least 56 percent of the population needs to use the app.
This finding is the latest example of mounting skepticism among experts regarding the effectiveness of the technology.
With the exception of healthcare professionals wearing medical grade N95 masks, whether an individual contact was wearing a mask doesn’t really matter to a contact tracer, Gurley says. This is because there’s no way to verify what kind of a mask that person was wearing, and whether they were doing so correctly.
Majorities of adults say they would be open to participating in some parts of the process of identifying and isolating coronavirus victims, but others are reluctant to engage fully with public health authorities.
A new Pew survey found 41 percent of people said they were not very likely to talk to a public health official about the coronavirus.
Sure, we may have a lower investment in the collective good, but we've also been basically conditioned to avoid answering the phone at any and all costs.
Since COVID-19 can be spread before symptoms occur or when no symptoms are present, case investigation and contact tracing activities must be swift and thorough.