Useful Coronarvirus tool?

This might be of interest.


Here’s the charts from above for Lewisham:

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More info which is quite interesting as it shows a new symptom. Also, they really need people from the BAME community, which has been hit hard, to take part. Please download the app.


I read this evening in the FT that Lord Bethell ( a health minister) today told the commons science and technology select committee that “we are seeking to get something [contact tracing programme] going for the winter, but it isn’t a priority for us at the moment”

Londondrz, I think you said that you and your folks have been working hard on this lately. Were you aware that it isn’t a priority ? - sorry if I have missed the point (as usual) in some way, but I was alarmed to read this. Can you shed any light ?

Reading it again it seems as if it’s the ‘app’ that has been kicked into the long grass and is no longer a a priority.

May family and I are doing two things. The first is this app which takes about a minute to fill in for 4 of us.

The second is in conjunction with The Office For National Statistics/Oxford University/IQVIA and is one where we were visited once a week for swab tests of nose and mouth. That was every week for a month and then once a month for a year. I also volunteered to do the blood test part of this study (I have yet to be tested).

Both are pretty much academic studies which I hope will prove useful in understanding Covoid19.


There appears to be a number of research studies on the go.

I’ve been invited to take part in a research study by Imperial College London which they are conducting of behalf of the Department of Health & Social Care. It was a random selection of 100,000 people residing in England, registered with the NHS. This research is primarily helping the Government work out how many people may have COVID-19 in different areas of the country (quoted direct from my letter).

Hopefully these research studies will go some way to make sense of this all.


Ok, thanks for explaining. Just seen this in the Guardian. It seems like the NHSX app is being abandoned in favour of google/apple version which other European countries have already adopted. The Germans have got theirs up and running this week it seems.


The beeb reporting is a bit more informative:

Choice quotes:

Also from the article, Hancock is quoted:


As an Android user I’m pretty unhappy with Apple’s attitude (ok I was going to say something harsher, but I’m a laady).

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As an Apple user I am supportive of the default privacy protections that Apple users enjoy. I certainly don’t want third party apps to have unfettered access to location data, of myself, or of others.

Without wishing to take this topic off-topic, Apple and Google have very different motivations, and very different attitudes to privacy.

From the outset I was very concerned about the precedent set by contact tracing by smartphone, in general (NHS, Apple, Google or whomever). It’s frankly alarming that any centralised body would be able to monitor people’s whereabouts in realtime. We often forget that whilst our current government is benign, future governments may be less so. Likewise Google - I believe that whilst it is generally benign, the gradual erosion of the public’s privacy sets a precedent that may help other nefarious private companies do really nasty things with data.

I’d recommend watching Netflix’s “The Stranger” to see the kind of unintended consequences I’m aluding to here.

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Gosh, if only they could have foreseen this with some kind of precedent. Like for example the EU Settlement charade where the NFC passport checker only worked with Android phones for similar reasons.

“My original plan to cross the channel by bicycle might have worked had it not been for the fact that bicycles don’t float…”

@anon5422159 I have Apple stuff too - I like the fact that they at least try harder with privacy, but for precisely that reason and the fact the Govt failed the first time around I feel like they could have saved themselves 3 months effort - quite a few people could have told them for free that it wouldn’t have worked because Apple don’t make exceptions, even for governments. Hence they built a secure API into their OS, so if you try to go around it, they’re clearly going to nope you.

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I don’t think the govenment has failed, per se.

They tried two approaches and weighed up the results empirically (and by no means was the NHS app unfit for purpose - it’s just that the approaches taken by Apple and Google over the last few weeks have ultimately proved more accurate on balance).

In settling on a third party approach despite investment in the NHS app, the government demonstrated a lack of hubris, and showed their willingness to do the right thing for the public.

My point is why would you try an approach that you know up front won’t work on half the devices out there. It is unfit for purpose on one of 2 major OSes out there - that’s a fail in my book. If I was building an app for a client and said ‘hey it works great! (except only on Android)’ then I suspect they’d be underwhelmed especially if it’s a fairly predictable situation.

Wired has a good read on what went wrong:

However, not using APIs created by Apple and Google always carried significant risk. The system created by the big tech firms lets Bluetooth run seamlessly in the background. Countries like England that chose to forge their own path had to work around restrictions in Android and iOS, something that NHSX has belatedly realised is simply not possible.

And yes I’m glad they did a U-turn on this albeit it’ll now be a while again where we don’t have a functioning track and trace app.


Well that sounds like a pretty big failing to me. I’d rather have the Android app if it gives more accurate results. But it sounds like I’m not going to have a choice.

This seems like a rerun of VHS vs Betamax, where slicker marketing and cutting deals wins out over technical results that only some people notice or care about. Except in this case it’s people’s lives not long play recording length vs sound and picture quality.

Apple’s decision to respect other people’s privacy is not equivalent to VHS/Betamax. iPhones have the relevant technology built in but they carefully discern which parties are allowed to use it

I’m thankful that both Apple and Google exist, so those of us who care about inalienable human rights and civil liberties can select the device that satisfies our requirements. Apple aren’t perfect, but they are generally highly principled - more so than Google.

I don’t think that’s quite the right analogy.

Let’s say Apple is BetaMax (like a Sony closed system) and Google is VHS (Android is an open platform hence multiple vendors make Android phones like they did VHS recorders).

So what you had is Betamax and VHS tape players (i.e phones) and for the crisis both companies agreed on a type of cassette system that would magically fit both - they adapted their machines with an update to interoperate with both types of cassettes.

The NHS app was basically a VHS tape they tried to shove into a Betamax player and they’re surprised it wouldn’t fit or play.


@anon5422159 I think we should flag ourselves as descending into a political discussion, before anyone actually complains, I’ll voluntarily put myself on a timeout from this thread :slight_smile:


Sure, I’ll do the same. I don’t think we’ve been overly partisan but I’ll step out to encourage other voices to participate.

Hopefully we can keep party politics out of this topic.


Apple and Google hire some of the smartest software developers on the planet, what they do is know all about android and iOS which they invented and it’s all they live and breath.

When the plague came along Apple and Google worked together to make and deploy the contract tracing API which is now in any updated Apple and Google phone. They did this for free and it is well researched, documented and tested.

Why on earth cant we just swallow our pride, and borrow whichever one a kind neighbour is willing to share the source code on. They can always tweak it later if there was some uk specific functionality desired. I understand the official German one for example is open source and ready to be used. It’s worth considering that these are the same clowns at HMG who will be building the tariff and import/export systems and processes for all those countries they’ve negotiated trade agreements with which are required in < 6 months time.

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