Study finds Australia’s contact tracing app ineffective

A government-backed research announced a finding that Australia’s nationwide contact tracing app unhelpful for the country’s response for the COVID-19 pandemic. The study was funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council and the New South Wales Ministry of Health in an attempt to evaluate the effectiveness and usefulness of COVIDSafe, a smartphone-based proximity tracing app that was introduced in April 2020. The study identified three key issues that seemed to make the app unhelpful for COVID-19 contact tracing in New South Wales: (1) lower-than-expected uptake amount the populations at risk, (2) poor diagnostic performance, and (3) low perceived usefulness by public health staff. Interviews revealed that COVIDSafe was not useful in contact tracing because of its cumbersome interface, difficulty in accessing and interpreting data, and delays in the roll-out and in notifying close contacts.