Virologist Chrisian Drosten is enthusiastic about the possibilities that new apps offer in the fight against the new corona virus.
“If I get symptoms as an infected person, the one I infected at the beginning is already infectious again,” he says. At the beginning of their own illness, the next but one generation of infected people is almost started again. That is why health authorities are often too late in tracking infection chains.
This is the big advantage of the apps, according to Drosten in the NDR podcast. In addition to more tests and wearing face masks, these apps are called by many experts as a prerequisite to keep the infection curve flat and to loosen the restrictions at some point.
“A mobile app like this just has to be found and as many as possible have to be persuaded to participate,” says Drosten. After all, 46 percent of the transmissions would take place before the infected person feels symptoms. He couldn’t protect others so easily.
Better than “hammer and dance”
The app, on the other hand, could warn and quarantine the people an infected person has now met. These apps, which are still in the test phase, would record how long and how close two people are to each other.
They also have a diagnostic component. Symptoms can be entered and the app says whether you should undergo a coronavirus test – and would even make an appointment with the laboratory if necessary. Entering the test result is voluntary, as is all use of the app. If someone turns out to be infected, the app would also quarantine their contacts.
Advantage: The switching on and off of contact restrictions, called “hammer and dance” for the next few months, which is difficult for people to tolerate according to Drosten, could be replaced by a “small part” in the contact restrictions. Quarantine could then only be prescribed for a neighborhood or a circle of friends.
“One could imagine that the app sends a warning to the cell phone and shows this like a sick leave to the employer,” says the virologist. Speed takes precedence, it is not so important whether the person is really tested positive. According to Dirk Brockmann, a data modeler from the Robert Koch Institute, around half of the population needs to participate in order for the app to work.
But such an app is still a long way off. She is currently in the test phase, with data protection being the most complicated, according to Brockmann.
The software that already exists is from the Robert Koch Institute and asks for data donations. With the help of fitness wristbands and smartwatches, values such as age, postcode, pulse and body temperature, if measured with the watch, are collected anonymously. The app is designed to quickly identify corona symptoms, for example by increasing your resting heart rate, which can be a sign of fever. The data should then be shown on a map.
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