Apple/Google's COVID apps saved 1,000s of lives in the UK

From AppleInsider's "UK's NHS coronavirus tracing app prevented thousands of deaths, study claims" posted Friday:

After adopting the Apple/Google coronavirus exposure notification technology, the UK's NHS app is reported to have saved up to 8,700 lives.

The UK's controversial COVID app — initially rejecting the Apple/Google model, then failing at a cost of millions of pounds — is reported to have saved thousands of lives.
According to BBC News, a report into the effect of the app estimates between 4,200 and 8,700 deaths were prevented. The report was written in part by the makers of the app, but it's now been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication by Nature magazine.

From the app's release on September 24, 2020, to the end of that year, research says that it was "used regularly" by 28% of the UK population. It's not clear what the definition of regular use is, but it was used by 16.5 million people in this period.

The app found a total of 560,000 positive reports, and sent around 1.7 million exposure notifications to other people.

Researchers say that they used two different methodologies for estimating the effectiveness of the app in this period. A data modelling approach concluded that the app prevented 284,000 cases of COVID, while a statistical analysis suggested 594,000.

My take: The U.S. was way behind the 8-ball on this. I downloaded the Apple app as soon as it was available in September 2020. As of April 5, Massachusetts was still testing it.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this item had a unforgivable math error In the headline.


  1. Gregg Thurman said:
    As of April 5, Massachusetts was still testing it.

    We in the US rail at EU regulators, but our own are often times much worse.

    For something like Apple’s/Google’s COVID-19 app why does it need to be tested? Because a governmental body somewhere feels the need to exert control. Power hungry assholes.

    May 14, 2021
  2. Daniel Epstein said:
    Love this kind of analysis but quibble with the headline. According to the article around 8700 deaths were prevented. How does the headline get to “100,000’s saved”? Maybe that many people were saved from Covid exposure?

    May 14, 2021

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