The way in which the government has dealt with the Coronavirus crisis has come under much scrutiny, with many scientists and other experts feeling the approach to social lockdown that was not as comprehensive or as fast as other European countries pout greater strain on the NHS and could lead to a much higher number of deaths in the UK than there could have been with stricter lockdown proposals. One of the areas in which there has been a struggle to come up with an effective strategy out of lockdown, is how to trace the potential infected. In other countries, especially in places like Korea, there has been the use of technology to track those that are infected, trace those who the infected have come into contact with and go from there. Could a contact tracing app for Covid-19 work in the UK?
Some scientists are placing pressure on the UK government to do such that, providing an app to the general public that would be designed to alert those people who have been in contact with someone who has been infected. The idea is, that those people who have been in contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19 could then self-isolate for 14 days (following WHO guidelines) and prevent the disease from spreading further. In these times where people are only permitted to leave the house for half hour of exercise or to go to the supermarket for essential grocery shopping, this could be a way back to some sort of normal life once we have reached the peak of the virus.
The speed of infection witnessed so far with Covis-19 means that a traditional manual approach of surveying during treatment is not as effective, and that technology should be utilised wherever possible to ensure that greater numbers of people are aware that they could be in direct danger and should stay indoors.
It is believed a contact tracing app such as this could cut down the process of tracing all potentially infected from around a week, down to a few seconds. Technology like this was used in Korea and China, with plugins to platforms like Alipay and WeChat that allows for accurate information to be relayed to large numbers of the population in a fast and short space of time.
The fast development of technology in pharma and biotech has always played a big part in how we overcome new diseases and illnesses. In these unprecedented times of the Coronavirus and how the entire world has effectively closed down for ‘normal’ business, it is interesting to see the different approaches undertaken across the world to ensure that there is an effective end in sight. Without a vaccine currently available, it is important to look at all possible angles to help us slowly come out of lockdown without suffering from a second wave of infections as big as the first. With the experience of how countries like Korea and Japan have used apps to trace the infected, it could be something we look at in the UK to help ease out of lockdown without unnecessarily putting greater numbers at risk.