Britain is sleepwalking into another coronavirus disaster by failing to listen to global consensus and expert analysis with the release of the NHS COVID-19 contact-tracking app.
On Monday, the UK government explained in depth and in clearly written language how its iOS and Android smartphone application – undergoing trials in the Isle of Wight – will work, and why it is a better solution to the one by Apple and Google that other nations have decided to adopt. It has also released a more technical explanation.
Unfortunately for folks in UK, while the explanation is coherent, calm, well-reasoned and plausible, it is likely to be a repeat of the disastrous “herd immunity” policy that the government initially backed as a way to explain why it didn’t need to go into a national lockdown. That policy was also well-reasoned and well-explained by a small number of very competent doctors and scientists who just happened to be completely wrong.
Here’s what happening: there are broadly two types of coronavirus contact-tracing apps; those that are centralized and those that are decentralized. The first takes data from people’s phones and saves it on a central system where experts are trusted to make the best possible use of the data, including providing advice to people as and when necessary.