Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

A team of medical research and statistical modelling experts at Oxford University and the Alan Turing Institute have conducted a joint analysis to assess the impact of the NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app.

Phone screen showing the app in use

The research suggests the app stopped between 200,000 and 900,000 infections between 1st October and 31st December 2020, when 1.9 million people were infected with coronavirus in England and Wales.

Christophe Fraser, Professor of Pathogen Dynamics at Oxford University’s Big Data Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine, explains: 'We used two separate approaches to analyse the impact of the more than 1.5 million notifications sent by the app in 2020, and both showed that between 200,000 and 900,000 infections have been averted. The impact of the app could be increased if more people use it. For each 1% increase in users we estimate the number of cases will drop by between 0.8% and 2.3%.'

The report shows the app was downloaded onto over 21 million phones, out of 33.7 million eligible people with compatible smartphones living in England and Wales. In 2020, the app sent out an average of 4.4 quarantine notifications for each user who shared their positive test result though the app. Most alerts went out in the second half of December when cases were rising rapidly across the UK due to the new B117 variant.

Read the full story on the University of Oxford website.

The story is also featured in the Fraser Group Coronavirus blog.

Similar stories

Communication at the crossroads of the immune system

In his inaugural article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences as an NAS member (elected 2021), Prof Mike Dustin and his research team in Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences have explained how messages are passed across the immunological synapse. The research could have implications for future vaccine development and immunotherapy treatments.

Oxford spinout trials revolutionary bioelectronic implant to treat incontinence

The first participants in a clinical trial of a bioelectrical therapy to treat incontinence have received their “smart” bioelectronic implants.

COVID-19 is a leading cause of death in children and young people in the US

A new study led by researchers at the University of Oxford’s Department of Computer Science has found that, between 2021 and 2022, COVID-19 was a leading cause of death in children and young people in the United States, ranking eighth overall. The results demonstrate that pharmaceutical and public health interventions should continue to be applied to limit the spread of the coronavirus and protect again severe disease in this age group.

Three or more concussions linked with worse brain function in later life

Experiencing three or more concussions is linked with worsened brain function in later life, according to new research.

New blood test could save lives of heart attack victims

Researchers in the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics (DPAG) have developed a blood test that measures stress hormone levels after heart attacks. The test – costing just £10 – could ensure patients receive timely life-saving treatment.

COVID-19 increased public trust in science, new survey shows

A survey of over 2000 British adults has found that public trust in science, particularly genetics, increased significantly during the pandemic. However, those with extremely negative attitudes towards science tend to have high self-belief in their own understanding despite low textbook knowledge.