Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A team of medical research and bioethics experts at Oxford University are supporting several European governments to explore the feasibility of a coronavirus mobile app for instant contact tracing. If rapidly and widely deployed, the infectious disease experts believe such an app could significantly help to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Stethoscope and mobile phone

The Oxford University team has provided European governments, including the UK, with evidence to support the feasibility of developing a contact tracing mobile app that is instant, could be widely deployed, and should be implemented with appropriate ethical considerations. The Oxford University team recommends that the mobile application should form part of an integrated  coronavirus control strategy that identifies infected people and their recent person-to-person contacts using digital technology.

Professor Christophe Fraser from Oxford University’s Big Data Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, explains why a contact tracing app could be deployed with urgency: 'Coronavirus is unlike previous epidemics and requires multiple inter-dependent containment strategies. Our analysis suggests that almost half of coronavirus transmissions occur in the very early phase of infection, before symptoms appear, so we need a fast and effective mobile app for alerting people who have been exposed. Our mathematical modelling suggests that traditional public health contact tracing methods are too slow to keep up with this virus.'

Professor Fraser continues, 'The instant mobile app concept is very simple. If you are diagnosed with coronavirus, the people you’ve recently come into contact with will be messaged advising them to isolate. If this mobile app is developed and deployed rapidly, and enough people opt-in to use such an approach, we can slow the spread of coronavirus and mitigate against devastating human, economic and social impacts.'

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website

Watch the recent Channel 4 interview with Professor Christophe Fraser and Dr David Bonsall

Similar stories

Asthma drug budesonide shortens recovery time in non-hospitalised patients with COVID-19

Clinical Trials Coronavirus COVID-19 Research

Inhaled budesonide, a common corticosteroid, is the first widely available, inexpensive drug found to shorten recovery times in COVID-19 patients aged over 50 who are treated at home and in other community settings, reports the PRINCIPLE trial in 1,779 participants.

UK and EU regulators conclude benefits of vaccination continue to outweigh the risks

Coronavirus COVID-19 General

Today, the medical regulators in the UK and Europe have announced their conclusions from their reviews of very rare cases of unusual blood clots in people who have received the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Link between COVID-19 infection and subsequent mental health and neurological conditions found

Coronavirus COVID-19 General Research

One in three COVID-19 survivors received a neurological or psychiatric diagnosis within six months of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, an observational study of more than 230,000 patient health records published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal estimates. The study looked at 14 neurological and mental health disorders.

New national study of long-term impacts of debilitating lung damage from COVID-19

Coronavirus COVID-19 General Research

A new national study will investigate the long-term effects of lung inflammation and scarring from COVID-19. The study, launched with £2 million of funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), aims to develop treatment strategies and prevent disability.

Opportunities for final goodbyes must be prioritised in COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus COVID-19 General Research

Bereaved relatives described the ongoing pain of being absent at the end of a loved-one's life. Many had not seen their relative for weeks or months due to the pandemic. Opportunities must be prioritised for essential connections between families at end-of-life care.