Since the start of the year, the number of people using Finland’s Wuhan coronavirus tracking app has fallen from 2.4 million to 1.8 million, representing around a quarter of users.
The smartphone app Koronavilkku collects data from others to determine if someone has been in contact with a person who has tested positive for the Wuhan coronavirus.
Since the start of the year, a quarter of the app’s users have abandoned it. Asko Järvinen, Chief of Infections at the Helsinki University Hospital, told YLE there could be a number of reasons for the drop, including people switching phones or having “not seen the app as of great benefit”.
Järvinen defended the app, saying: “In Helsinki, not all exposed people can be contacted, and exposures occur more intensively in places where the exposer or those exposed do not know each other, such as in restaurant and nightlife settings. In these situations, the app can be very useful.”
Finland is not alone in seeing users abandon coronavirus apps. In the UK, it was revealed that 52 per cent of young people who downloaded the NHS app have either deleted it, turned it off, or not bothered to check in.
52 Per Cent of Young Britons Delete or Don’t Use NHS Covid Tracing App Properly: Poll https://t.co/Mo5pelv0UK
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) July 21, 2021
The app has also been linked to the so-called “pingdemic” in the UK, where the NHS app has notified at least 600,000 people as lockdowns restrictions have been eased, telling users to isolate, meaning businesses have been severely disrupted and some forced to shut. In Britain, railway services have been cut in recent days as the number of ‘pings’ being sent out on the app have seen traincrews asked to self-isolate.
Brexit leader Nigel Farage commented on the pingdemic, saying: “Far from opening up, we’re actually beginning a process of lockdown down. If we go on at this rate, goodness knows where we’ll be.”
The isolation recommendations from the app are not a legal requirement, something the government has only comparatively recently decided to emphasise in public, and many employers have allegedly told staff to ignore the notifications if they take a PCR test and get a negative result.
In Canada, the government spent nearly $20 million (£11.53m/US$15.89m)on a covid tracking app, but only 6.6 million of the 30 million mobile phone users (around 22 per cent) downloaded it. As a result of the low number, the app has seen meagre results.
“We have to admit that, in retrospect, it did not meet expectations at all — far from it,” Dr Esli Osmanlliu of the McGill University Health Centre said and added: “It was not a ‘game changer’ if you will.”