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CovidSafe App More Relevant Now, But Report Delayed

The Federal Government has done itself a disservice by delaying the release of the CovidSafe app report despite it continuing to show a lower than hoped for take-up.

The report was compiled before the outbreak of the more virulent Delta strain of the virus and appears more relevant than ever, in trying to identify potential Covid outbreaks.

Compiled between November last year and May, the report found fewer than 800 people who tested positive had downloaded the app, with 2827 potential close contacts being identified from 37,668 encounters.

But that was Covid 19’s first iteration and we’re now facing an outbreak that is quickly spiralling out of control as infections and deaths from the virus, escalate across the country.

Despite what appeared to be a massive cost and failed technology from the outset, the report emphasises that many of the early problems –particularly with  iOS – have been fixed with a software update called the Herald Protocol.

When the app went live in April last year, the Government aimed for a 40 percent take-up of Australia’s 25,788,000 plus population for it to be of maximum effectiveness.

That required just over 10 million downloads, but the report found downloads stubbornly remain at around 7,500,000, with elderly people most likely to download the app while younger people have resisted, mainly due to privacy concerns.

The app was also launched when the elderly were most at risk from Covid while it appeared the young had a stronger resistance, but those caveats have changed with all ages now at risk.

When the app was launched the Federal Government embarked on an extensive communications campaign that involved television, radio and social media advertisements.

Perhaps it’s time for the Government to revisit that campaign and remind Australians that there are digital tools available to help stop the spread of Covid-Delta.

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