SwissCovid app to be deactivated on April 1
The Swiss government has announced that, almost one and a half years after it was first launched, the SwissCovid app will be deactivated from April 1, meaning it will no longer be available for download on Google or Apple stores.
Contract tracing app to be phased out in Switzerland
The app - not to be confused with the Swiss COVID Cert app that displays COVID certificates - was designed to trace close contacts of people infected with COVID-19. At one point, the app had 2 million active users, making it one of the most popular apps in Switzerland last year.
In a statement, the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) acknowledged that the scrapping of the remaining COVID restrictions on March 31 meant that the app was no longer needed. Should the requirement to self-isolate return, the FOPH said that the app can be reactivated quickly.
FOPH says SwissCovid app helped save lives
The FOPH said that the app had helped save lives, especially before vaccines were readily available. The system led many to test themselves for COVID even when asymptomatic and isolate themselves at a much earlier stage.
An estimated 10 million Swiss francs were spent on the app, making it one of the cheaper policies enacted by the government to combat COVID (the total bill sits at around 30 billion Swiss francs). Thanks to the app, experts say people at risk of infection went into isolation a day earlier on average, saving many lives.
Swiss government promises to learn from app failings
There were downsides that the FOPH reported, chief among which was that the app could have been more effective if more people had downloaded it. According to Watson, discussions have begun at the federal level and among Swiss cantons as to why they were unable to convince more people to download it.
There was also concern that many IT failures had plagued the system. In the early stages, many bottlenecks occurred which meant confirmed COVID close contacts registered on the app were either not sent to health officials in time or not sent at all. Watson noted that the failures in the early stages of the app will now be analysed and the lessons learned will be used to help digitise more areas of Swiss healthcare.