More than 11 million Covid Certificates have already been downloaded in Belgium since the app went online in mid-June, according to figures by Digital Flanders and CovidSafeBE.
A (digital) Covid Certificate has been required to facilitate within the EU since 1 July, and indicates if the holder has been vaccinated, has a negative test result, or has recently recovered from the coronavirus.
Since the CovidSafeBE app was launched on 16 June in Belgium, 11 million certificates have been downloaded, half of which via the mobile app, which has been installed by more than 2.6 million people, according to Digital Flanders.
Three-quarters of the requested certificates are vaccination certificates, and this number will rise even more over the coming weeks as an increasing part of the population is fully vaccinated.
Additionally, the app will also be used for the Covid Safe Ticket for major events in Belgium from 13 August, which is why Digital Flandes stressed the importance of allowing minors to use the certificates as well.
From now on, however, minors can also save their own certificates in the app on their smartphone.
More information about Belgium’s Covid Certificate, how to download it, and how it works can be found here.
Phasing out Coronalert
Belgium’s other coronavirus app, Coronalert, which is used to anonymously report a Covid infection to possible risk contact so they can get tested and quarantine, can be phased out, according to the Flemish Groen ecological party.
The party requested figures from Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke, which shows that the app has shared 27,800 positive test results since it was launched.
“That is only 2.7% of all positive Covid tests since the app was launched almost a year ago,” Groen MP Jeremie Vaneeckhout said. “I do not think you can speak of a great success.”
The party is calling for a “very thorough” evaluation of the app, and wants Beke to make no further investments in the project, as it only has 2.7 million downloads, which is roughly 30% of all smartphone users in Belgium.
“806,000 test results were reported, of which 76,000 were positive. But only 27,800 positive tests were actually shared via the app with other contacts,” said Vaneeckhout.
“With an investment of some €1.25 million, you can wonder if the Coronalert app ever succeeded in its goal of being a tool in the fight against the coronavirus,” he added.
The party wants to phase out the use of the app, and no longer sees a role for it during the major events that will be allowed again from 13 August.
Earlier this year, a collaborative project by several international news organisations found that several countries, including Belgium, continue to invest in the apps without being able to prove that they help contain the pandemic, as they have no data about the real-time use and whether it results in people getting tested when they get notified about possible infections.
“It is still important to take precautions to prevent infections, but for Groen, the app does not offer any extra added value,” the party said.