Germany’s health ministry Wednesday said its coronavirus smartphone app has been downloaded more than 18 million times and transmitted 1.2 million test results from labs to users during the first 100 days of use.
Health Minister Jens Spahn told reporters in Berlin that while the “Corona Warn App" is far from perfect, it should be considered a success. He said almost 5,000 users have activated the app to warn their contacts and called it a key tool in the country's effort to contain the spread of the virus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.
He said, “This shows that the corona tracing app works, it is in demand…it helps to prevent infections and it is one of the most successful apps worldwide.”
Spahn noted in particular the fact that most users can get their test results sent directly to their smartphones, without having to wait for their doctor to inform them.
Germany's strict privacy rules mean that the app stores all data on phones and not on a central server. Observers, however, say there is no precise data on the number of people alerted about possible exposure.
Should an app user get a positive test result, the app has a button the person can press to warn his or her contacts. Spahn says one problem is not everyone is doing that. "Only about half of the app users who get a positive result inform their contacts afterwards.”
Spahn says the app is not a cure-all, but one of a number of important tools the government is using to control the spread of the virus.
German tech company Deutsche Telekom, working with software company SAP, developed the app. Deutsche Telekom Chief Executive Tim Hoettges said more than 90% of labs in Germany are now connected to it.
Hoettges said efforts are under way to establish a European “gateway” that will allow the German app to communicate with those in 10 other European countries, including Italy, Poland and Spain, that use the same decentralized, Bluetooth-based system.