Breaking News
More () »

How effective is the COVIDWISE contact tracing app?

As of Monday, the app has 763,771 downloads in Virginia, according to the Department of Health.

NORFOLK, Va. — We first told you about COVIDWISE in August.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) had just launched the exposure notification app to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. It uses Bluetooth-based technology to notify users if they were around someone who tested positive for the virus.

As of Monday, the app has 763,771 downloads in Virginia, according to the VDH, which is 8.95 percent of the population.

However, 18 percent of 18 to 65-year-olds who have a smartphone use COVIDWISE.

For privacy reasons, the notification system on the app is anonymous, and that makes it difficult to quantify. There are other lurking variables, like traditional contact tracing efforts and social distancing, that are simultaneously limiting the spread as well.

But researchers from Google, Oxford, and Stanford ran simulations using Washington State as their subject. Washington has a comparable population to Virginia.

New numbers show if 15 percent of the population uses the app, then total infections are reduced anywhere from 6 to 8 percent. If we were to apply the 18 percent download metric for Virginia, we’ll conservatively use the 8 percent reduction rate. That means Virginia has avoided approximately 17,000 total infections.

The simulations also show, not surprisingly, the more people who download and use the app the higher reduction rate percentage climbs.

Before You Leave, Check This Out