Isle of Wight downloads of COVID-19 trial app exceed expectations

The number of people on the Isle of Wight who have downloaded the trial phone app that tracks COVID-19 has exceeded all expectations, the island’s MP has told Sky News.

Conservative MP Bob Seely says that figures from last Friday show that 65% of people who could download the app have done so.

He said: “We are well ahead of what we hoped. When the figure goes above 20% you begin to get good evidence, over 50% and you start suppressing the virus and over 60% and you get the benefits of the app working.”

Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight Bob Seely
Image: Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight Bob Seely

The app uses a phone’s bluetooth technology to register contact when people come within 6ft of one another for at least 15 minutes.

If a user develops symptoms of COVID-19, they inform the NHS and an alert is sent to other users they have come in contact with.

The government says the app is “completely confidential” and the identity of those a person come in contact with is not be revealed.

Users remain anonymous up to the point where they volunteer their own details.

More from Covid-19

They will be asked to hand over some personal details such as a partial postcode, age and gender, but others won’t receive this information.

Mr Seely said that out of a population of 140,000, 90,000 could download it, depending on their type of smartphone

“When I’m out and about the vast majority of people tell me they have downloaded it.”

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How does contact tracing app work?

Addressing concerns about data protection, he said: “I’ve never downloaded an app that wants to know less information. It asks only for the first half of your postcode, basic details, nothing more.”

He added: “The outcome of the app could be that grandparents can see their grandchildren again, the pubs can reopen, we can get our businesses up and running again.”

The government wants the app to be rolled out across England by mid-May following the Isle of Wight trial.

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