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Contact tracing app has reached efficiency-threshold

© Belga

Belgium’s coronavirus app has been installed by enough people to make it efficient, its developers said on Thursday.

The Coronalert app has been downloaded into just under 2 million smartphones in the country out of the 6.3 developers estimated were compatible with the app.

Axel Legay, a cybersecurity professor at the Université de Louvain (UCLouvain) said the number was “good news,” as it meant the app had reached its projected efficacy threshold.

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The roughly 2 million downloads amount to around 15% the global smartphone user pool which developers said could suffice.

“With 15% of people, we can already save lives,” Legay said in an interview at the time of the app’s launch in September.

Initially, developers said that Walloon users appeared to be snubbing the app out of what were identified primarily as privacy-related concerns.

But Legay told Le Soir that the Walloon gap was slowly closing and catching up with the download rate in Flanders, where users were quick to download and start employing the app.

“The Flemish darted to use the app, but the trend is stabilising between the regions. In Wallonia, a debate around privacy emerged. But since, reports, including by [consumer organisation] Test Achats, showed that there wasn’t any risk.”

Legay also said that the app had triggered tens of thousands of risky-contact alerts which had led to a coronavirus test, 20% of which returned a positive result, out of whom half alerted other people of their status.

The figures, he said, were estimations obtained from the app’s anonymised data bank which includes tests results and a 17-digit code.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times