What to know about COVID tracing apps

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/11/24/what-to-know-about-covid-tracing-apps.html


Also (if in UK) you cannot run it if you have something as old as an iPhone 6.

Govt. health measures held hostage by constant and unnecessary incremental software fuckwittery.

(To be fair, Apple and Google probably deserve some credit for enabling the whole thing in the first place.)



I think you have unrealistic expectations here. Apple and Google baked some controls into their OS that apps can utilise and you expect them to be available in older versions of the OS?
Covid apps can run on older versions of the OS, but they can’t utilise the newer functionality.
Yes, there are plenty of things that you can rage about being unnecessary OS upgrades but this is not one of them.

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I think all effort put into this kludge to work should be redirected to plain human-telephone-and-notebook contact tracing. When the number of cases is unmanageable to work with contact tracers, it’s time to go lockdown.


I have difficulty to understand the full concept of the app.
For example, China have it mandatory since day one.
But when a outbreak append as yesterday; They are still locking 18,000 person in a parking lot to test them. (pushing them all clos together)

To work, you need absolutely 100% of tracing, 100% of the time and accuracy.
That’s’ technically and ethically not possible. (even in China apparently)

Good luck with that.
You even have people that found that wearing a mask is impossible.

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That really depends on your definition of ‘to work’. The credible informed estimates I’ve seen talk about 80% uptake being good enough. Sure, you will definitely miss some folks, and you will definitely need supplemental old-school contact tracers to really close the net if you want to get to elimination (rather than mere suppression) but 80% means you very quickly have the skeleton - and most of the flesh - of a contact network, and can prevent things spiralling out of control. And, of course, the pieces of the network missed because their case 0s lie in the 20% are themselves subject to the 80% meaning the impact of any squirters gets shutdown quickly too.

To be sure, 100% would absolutely be better, but it is absolutely not a pre-req for an effective implementation.


I was going to post something like this. Simply put, for each virus there’s a different level of spread below which the virus will die out. Smother it long enough and it dies out. Which is out next challenge, doing it long enough. The other challenge is about to be anti-vaxxers.

And it’s a very layered, additive defense. Masks by themselves are perfect, but they slow spread a little bit to a lot. 2m distancing isn’t 100% infection, but it adds a bit more to the pillows we’re holding the virus under. Every bit add another hand to the pillow. Together, we get it done.

The above is not medical advice. I know nothing about this stuff, really. Stay safe, stay stay home.


I have worked on the SwissCovid app, as an external reviewer. AMA.

this is how the privacy part works:

Has anybody seen a contact tracing application that asks for your temperature every day, and ideally also the temperatures of your household members? It’s nowhere near perfect because fevers usually happen after you’ve been contagious a few days, but it’s a Really Simple Matter Of Programming, and especially in the US where we’ve done such an inadequate job of all the rest of the epidemic management, it’s cheap, and it’s a start, and you’re more likely to get people to take their temperatures than go in for a test.

And no, these things don’t need to work 100% of the time 100% accurately. They need to be better than the current system, which is called “100% False Negatives for detecting when somebody infected walks near you.” Not everybody who’s exposed is going to get infected, but the more times you can catch it early, the better. And the more times everybody around you is wearing a mask, the more times a false negative doesn’t result in you getting sick.

Vietnam has now had residents die of COVID infections they caught in the country, but for about half the year, their incidence of that was Zero, and the cases they did have were people who’d caught the disease outside the country.

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