back to article Europe publishes draft rules for coronavirus contact-tracing app development, on a relaxed schedule

The European Commission (EC) has published a document describing how it thinks member nations can best built a contact-tracing smartphone app to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Such apps have been adopted by Singapore and India. The UK, USA and Australia have all suggested they’ll soon follow suit. Apple and Google have weighed …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Meanwhile in the UK...

    NHS in standoff with Apple and Google over coronavirus tracing

    The NHS is in a standoff with Apple and Google after the two tech firms refused to support the UK’s plans to build an app that alerts users when they have been in contact with someone with coronavirus.

    Apple and Google are encouraging health services worldwide to build contact-tracing apps that operate in a decentralised way, allowing individuals to know when they’ve been in contact with an infected person but preventing governments from using that data to build a picture of population movements in aggregate.

    But the policies, unveiled last week, apply only to apps that don’t result in the creation of a centralised database of contacts. That means that if the NHS goes ahead with its original plans, its app would face severe limitations on its operation.

    [...]

    But the new tools, which come in the form of an API that lets developers code apps with special access to Bluetooth, strictly limit the information that public health authorities can gather. Most importantly, a public health authority cannot ask a phone to gather a list of every other phone it has been in contact with.

    [...]

    The limits will prevent the NHS from obtaining useful information about population flows in the aggregate, tracking “near misses” or receiving information about contacts from people who have opted into the system but not recently checked their phones.

    This seems to me to be a tenuous excuse at best. If the government wants population flows, it can already get them from the telecos (cell location data). If the government wants to get people to check their phones, it can push a notification to the NHS app or set a notification to appear at some time in the future.

    1. Tinslave_the_Barelegged

      Re: Meanwhile in the UK...

      > That means that if the NHS goes ahead with its original plans,

      > its app would face severe limitations on its operation.

      It's rather moot anyway. Such a system's effectiveness must depend on an accompanying testing regime that is rigorous enough to be identifying the majority of COVID-19 infections in a quick enough time. The UK seems to think that unless you're dead in a hospital or a VIP (assuming Johnson and Prince Charles can be so described) tests aren't being done at any useful rate, never mind at the scale required.

      And if the system relies on self-certifying COVID-19 symptoms, imagine how the system will be gamed. Certify yourself, then hold your mobile on a selfie-stick closer to others while shopping, out for a walk etc, maybe?

      No matter how sensible the EC proposals, and the corresponding support by Apple and Google, this looks to end up as just another NHSX data collecting techgasm.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile in the UK...

        Spot on.

        Any app is useless if self-certification is required and doubly useless if no-one can get tested unless they have severe symptoms or are VIPs.

        Besides, the whole 'lock everything down' idea is bollocks, better lock down the elderly and infirm, and allow everyone else (who will mostly be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic) to catch it and get over it as quickly as possible.

      2. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile in the UK...

        "rigorous enough to be identifying the majority of COVID-19 infections in a quick enough time"

        And we are not likely to get that sort of coverage within a useful period of time. The best national coverage to date is Iceland, at 10% (the denominator is low). In a country with a sizable population, testing capacity will have to be huge since periodic retesting will have to be done. Last week, I may have tested negative. But since then, someone coughed in my face.

        A more reasonable goal would be to test across a random sample of the population. A large enough sample to be statistically meaningful for epidemiological studies. But set aside the unreasonable goal of testing and retesting even a significant fraction of the population. The statistics will give the authorities what they need to know to lift travel bans and open up businesses while keeping an eye on the disease spread. All that will be needed is to pry a certain amount of the test capacity away from the VIPs.

        And finally, the long term outcome of this pandemic is that practically everyone will get the disease. A few will die. Others will be immune or asymptomatic. Some will get a nasty cough and fever. Some of these will require hospitalization and maybe an ICU. But they will recover. All that needs to happen is to keep the treatment rate at a low enough rate so the number of cases at any time doesn't overwhelm the system until a vaccine is developed. Then, testing will no longer matter, as it will be treated much the same as a flu shot. Everyone gets one.

      3. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile in the UK...

        "And if the system relies on self-certifying COVID-19 symptoms, imagine how the system will be gamed. Certify yourself, then hold your mobile on a selfie-stick closer to others while shopping, out for a walk etc, maybe?"

        Most people are not techies with Asperger's syndrome, so this is unlikely to happen. I wouldn't throw away a solution just because of the possibility of some dickheads. And obviously once you've self-certified, if you come near to another phone that other person will get a message popping up, asking them to call the police and take a photo of you.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meanwhile in the UK...

      Now what was all that fuss about in the election about control of what the NHS does being handed over to large US corporations!

    3. Gordon 10 Silver badge
      Mushroom

      I have a suspicion

      That NHSX is where all the wankers cock wombles knob jockeys corporate shills hipsters went when GOV.UK / GDS and/or CARE.DATA got quietly sidelined.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have a suspicion

        You're right, but oh it's so, so much worse than that.

        They've been partnered up with the powerpoint jockey bullshit merchants at Faculty AI, previously "Advanced Skills Initiative" previously "ASI Data Science", and the Totally Normal And Respectable People at That Company That We All Love: Palantir.

        For once, Google and Apple's insistence on cryptographic protections for the tracing data is doing everyone a favour. If Palantir got a whiff of that kind of data they'd never let it go. God only knows what the phd-toting tools at Faculty would do with our privacy.

        El Reg: Do us all a favour and start chasing down which departments have been partnered with which private sector companies and on what terms. There's all sorts of selling-by-the-back-door going on during this crisis.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We know what you did ...

    ... last coronavirus peak (and on all of the rest of them as well).

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: We know what you did ...

      there is NO NEED to VIOLATE YOUR PRIVACY with this.

      Just END THE SHUTDOWNS, NOW!

      The REAL numbers CURRENTLY show that it's about 50% worse than influenza. PERIOD. Hospitals are even LAYING PEOPLE OFF due to LACK OF DEMAND!

      Why are we shutting down for something that's ONLY 50% WORSE THAN INFLUENZA? We are WAY PAST the peak where it MIGHT have overloaded the medical system.

      So, WHY ARE PEOPLE SO WILLING TO GIVE UP THEIR PRIVACY AND BE TRACKED???

      WE HAVE the EQUIPMENT, and WE HAVE the MEDICATIONS.

      JUST *FEELING* *END* THE *FEELING* *SHUTDOWNS* *NOW* DAMMIT!!!

      (and stop acting like a bunch of RODENTS "Hunkering in the Bunker")

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We know what you did ...

        WHY are we all going around believing those IDIOTS who use "facts" and "logic" to LIE TO US and spread their POLITICAL AGENDA and CONFUSE us in to thinking that 1+1=2 and all those other NONSENSE LIES they BRAINWASH people with in the GOVERNMENT "EDUCATION FACILITIES" everyone is forced to send their children to? umm, I mean were forced to until the government cancelled that brainwashing programme for some reason that I can't be bothered to find out about...

        The cure for COVID-19 is quite simple. AN ALTERNATIVE SCIENTIST published a BLOG POST explaining how all you need to do to avoid catching COVID-19 is to shoot yourself in the head with a high calibre riffle. IT IS THAT SIMPLE! and you can even DO IT TO YOUR FAMILY if you care enough to PROTECT THEM FROM THE DEVIL! One bullet through the brain is all it takes to become immune and no longer have to sit at home with nothing better to do than watch TRUTH TELLERS explain the NASA cover up over the laserdisc shaped planet we orbit Justin Bieber on.

        1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: We know what you did ...

          Do you think Bob will LISTEN?

        2. BlackBerry ForEver

          Joe is immune to the cure.

          But Biden has shot himself in the head multiple times....and yet he is still vulnerable to everything going around. Please splain it. Take your best shot.

      2. The Dogs Meevonks
        Big Brother

        Re: We know what you did ...

        You must also believe that the world is flat, the we never went to the moon, the vaccines cause autism and that any vaccine developed for covid will be used to implant microchips in people to mid control them... and that Trump and his little lapdog BoJo are the greatest thing ever.

        Could you please, lay of the fruit loop juice for a few days... I think this self isolation is sending you a little silly... unless of course you are already completely bonkers... a few sandwiches short of a picnic, a few beers short of a six pack.. so to speak... if you are... then please accept my heartfelt apologies and my wishes that you get better soon.

      3. jmch Silver badge

        Re: We know what you did ...

        Not normally agreeing with Bob, but I do agree that

        a) this and any similar tracking apps are a privacy nightmare and stasi wet dream

        b) covid19 official stats are bullshit since (according to WHO) 80% of cases are mild or no symptoms, and none of these cases are being tested, and therefore not included in stats. So real mortality rate is up to 5 times less than official one.

        c) many government agencies and big corporations are going to abuse the situation to their advantage at our expense while pretending to save the day

        As to Bob, lay off the aps, mate, and people might take you more seriously

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We know what you did ...

          Jmch, when have you ever known a government that didn’t take advantage of a crisis? Terrorism has failed to bend us to their willing, but there’s no way the establishment is going to let this golden opportunity for a data slurp go begging. Just take, for example, the shit coming out of that cosmic bell-end Scotty “from marketing” Morrison’s pie hole - he hasn’t ruled out making the apps compulsory! How the fuck does that work Scotty? Jackbooted little stormtroopers on every corner checking phones? What a complete cvnt.

      4. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: We know what you did ...

        Bob, just go drink some more of the Trump Kool-Aid, and follow up with a warm, steaming heap of STFU.

      5. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: We know what you did ...

        I quite dislike having a bad influenza.

      6. harmjschoonhoven

        Re: We know what you did ...

        Bob should read https://www.wbur.org/cognoscenti/2020/04/03/hold-the-line-coronavirus-jonathan-smith as you all should do.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: We know what you did ...

          About the author of the that article:

          Jonathan Smith, a lecturer in epidemiology at Yale University, is completing his PhD in epidemiology at Emory University. His research focuses specifically on differential transmissibility of infectious diseases under various population-level and individual-level control measures.

          It seems you were downvoted by someone anonymous who either knows better, or doesn't believe in facts. :-( Maybe someone who is "Covered in Jesus's blood"?

      7. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: We know what you did ...

        BOB: "Right now the numbers are starting to say that Corona is REALLY only slightly worse than influenza"

        ** 8 days pass **

        BOB: "The REAL numbers CURRENTLY show that it's about 50% worse than influenza"

        Are you just going to keep upping that percentage every day so you don't ever have to admit you are wrong? :-D

        What the "REAL numbers CURRENTLY show" - if you know how to read them - is that Covid19 will kill 500 thousand to 2 million Americans. USA non pandemic flus are an order of magnitude smaller.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Megaphone

          Re: We know what you did ...

          "slightly worse than influenza" = 50% higher death rate, which in many areas of the world is the difference of 0.05% . The "Model" numbers are saying this - 60,000 deaths projected (rather than 2.5 MILLION) in the USA vs 40,000 for a typical flu season. SLIGHTLY worse, in the idea that it's 0.1% death rate for flu, 0.15% death rate for COVID-19. Or, SLIGHTLY worse is that, instead of 40,000 people dying, it's 60,000.

          Then there is the recent Stanford study using ACTUAL DATA checking for virus immunity. They surveyed several thousand volunteers in the Silicon Valley area and it suggests that the number of UNREPORTED CASES are as much as 50 TIMES the previously expected numbers. This suggests that the death rate projections MAY BE OFF BY A FACTOR OF 50, due to the vast number of MILD and UNREPORTED cases, which means THAT THIS SHUTDOWN BULLSHIT IS EXACTLY THAT - BULLSHIT!!!

          You can all act like small fearful rodents who won't dare leave their bunkers for fear of something that *MIGHT* be harmful to you, shut down your lives, your livelihood, and NOT complain about it if you want. As for ME, I shall *NOT* remain silent on this!!!

          Oh and for that one member of my "fan club" - "LISTEN" does not equal "BELIEVE". "UNDERSTAND" does not equal "ACCEPT". And one plus one *IS* two [except for binary, when it's 10].

          and from a recent S.F. Chronicle article (yeah not Fox News) (link snipped because of captcha and I'm NOT turning script on)

          “I think based on our study that it is less lethal” than has been previously reported, said Bhattacharya, who calculated that it is about equal or slightly more lethal that the flu

          The study appears to fall in line with another recent study that estimated that as many as 270,000 Californians are infected with the coronavirus, or 0.69% of the population. That’s more than 10 times the number reported. It calculated that 4.8% of the U.S. population was carrying the disease by early April, 39 times higher than reported, and that nearly half of New Yorkers were probably infected.

          that particular article has many different perspectives on the argument but the one thing you can determine clearly from all of this is that THE DEATH PROJECTIONS ARE JUST PLAIN WRONG, and the WORLD is PANICKING UNNECESSARILY over a virus that is only *SLIGHTLY* worse than influenza!!! And 'herd immunity' is PROBABLY the BEST way to combat it!

          (and NOT a TRACK YOUR PRIVACY AWAY "phone app")

          1. Foxglove

            Re: We know what you did ...

            Bob, you complete fucknut.

            'You can all act like small fearful rodents who won't dare leave their bunkers for fear of something that *MIGHT* be harmful to you,'

            No. I act responsibly so that I can protect others.

            Yes, that might also protect me.

            I am not fearful, I am practical and (maybe) intelligent.

            I'm not afraid of death, but I don't want to die because of carelessness either on my part or the part someone else.

          2. John H Woods Silver badge

            Re: We know what you did ...

            Bob: "The study appears to fall in line with another recent study that estimated that as many as 270,000 Californians are infected with the coronavirus, or 0.69% of the population. That’s more than 10 times the number reported. It calculated that 4.8% of the U.S. population was carrying the disease by early April, 39 times higher than reported, and that nearly half of New Yorkers were probably infected."

            If that were the case the infection rate of New Yorkers would be dropping. Also there would have been a lot more serious cases a lot earlier - unless the virus somehow ramps up in stealth mode and only then do you get a proportion of people needed intensive care.

            jcmh makes a similar mistake: "covid19 official stats are bullshit since (according to WHO) 80% of cases are mild or no symptoms ... So real mortality rate is up to 5 times less than official one"

            he's suggesting that their stats on that can be trusted but their analyses can't, which is very odd. You know, people who study pandemics who realise that 80% of cases are asymptomatic are probably going to construct their models on that basis?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We know what you did ...

            OK, BOOMERbastic Bob.

            What will you be saying when in 4 weeks time, the peak cases will be in red states that refused to isolate, and those churchgoers who refused to stay home?

          4. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: We know what you did ...

            Well Bob apparently there are sadly 40,000 reported US deaths from Covid-19. So according to you there's only 20,000 to go. Any life lost through this virus is very sad. It's tragic that healthcare professionals are dying from it whilst treating those who have it.

            Don't worry though Trump probably won't get it because he's a germaphobe and uses hand sanitiser all the time. One of my US friends told me last week that she voted for Trump. I knew she was a Republican but that she voted for Trump came as a shock. I had been lead to believe she'd abstained so that was a big surprise. She said despite staying a Republican she wasn't about to make the same mistake again come November given his handling of this.

            1. JimboSmith Silver badge

              Re: We know what you did ...

              Also I should add for full disclosure I have at least one relative who is a doctor (MD) and works for the NHS at a hospital. I'm seriously worried about their health and am praying they get through this safely.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: We know what you did ...

                So somebody has down voted a message about a guy being worried about their family member because he works for their National Health Service. Sheesh it's a cruel world.

                1. Someone Else Silver badge

                  Re: We know what you did ...

                  No, I think it more shows that a small but vocal group on this board are fuckwits.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: We know what you did ...

            Bob, you are wasting your time on many people who cannot think outside of their box, a box of fear even terror created by a hysterical media and social media of this invisible virus. It’s not even their fault, it’s a collective societal hysteria that’s gone into hyperdrive.

            For sure this is a a serious virus, for those who are susceptible to it. We need to protect those people absolutely, but the solution is not to shutdown the planet and destroy people’s livelihoods, perhaps putting 25% of people out of work. The solution isn’t to track and trace every human. The solution isn’t to have medical passports which will permit or deny travel. These are Stasi and Orwellian solutions.

            It’s not Ebola, it’s not SARS1, it’s not MERS, it’s not Bubonic Plague. Life can go on pretty much as normal for most people and those at risk should be the ones taking isolation measures and be prioritised for home deliveries etc.

            The downvoters are scared, confused, angry. I get it. You are surrounded by the same message blasting around. Our brains react in fear to this. Bob can be a prat, but here he’s quoting Stanford research, and there is plenty more out there.

            I’m not saying this is a conspiracy, I’m saying the human race has scared itself shitless with our recent social media shiny toys and 24/7 news. It’s a collective psychosis. Thankfully there are some people who can see outside of this and are reporting new research, not pseudoscience.

            Whatever, we cannot destroy society and the economy on something that kills this number of people. It’s disastrous for those people and their families, but it cannot be allowed to become disastrous for 100% of us, there are far more intelligent ways to manage this situation.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: We know what you did ...

              Absolute bollocks. I, and in sure most of the people here, have studied all the different evidence and reports.

              You, obviously haven't, and are suffering the same conspiratorial reaction that the MAGA's have.

              If you are so right, why not present your evidence to those that matter, and save the world?

              https://www.politicalcortadito.com/2020/03/24/epidemiologist-explains-why-social-distancing-is-1-weapon-vs-covid19/

        2. JimboSmith Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: We know what you did ...

          What the "REAL numbers CURRENTLY show" - if you know how to read them - is that Covid19 will kill 500 thousand to 2 million Americans. USA non pandemic flus are an order of magnitude smaller.

          Maybe if you said:

          will kill 500 thousand to 2 million actual or potential Trump voters

          He'd take it more seriously.

      8. Foxglove

        Re: We know what you did ...

        Bob,

        You wrote:

        WE HAVE the EQUIPMENT, and WE HAVE the MEDICATIONS.

        Wrong and wrong.

        I usually don't call you out on your bullshit because I have a full time job already but thought this crap you are espousing was worth 2 minutes of my time.

        You TWAT.

        Sorry, couldn't resist goin' all BOB for the twat bit.

        1. Martin Summers Silver badge

          Re: We know what you did ...

          We will never be rid of people in our society who don't give a fuck. It's depressing. Most of us care, most of us try our hardest to do as we should and do right by others. Some of us don't want to and never will. It often seems they have better lives than we do because they just don't worry about the things we worry about.

          But I could never, and will never, become one of them.

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: We know what you did ...

            "We will never be rid of people in our society who don't give a fuck. It's depressing. "

            COVID-19 at least gives us a chance.

            1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

              Re: We know what you did ...

              Unfortunately while stupidity kills, it doesn't kill quick enough (for the rest of us)

        2. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
          Pint

          Re: We know what you did ...

          ...because I have a full time job already...

          You owe me a new keyboard because of -------->

        3. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: We know what you did ...

          There are massive shortages of equipment and there are no cures for the virus (and in most cases, there are no cures for viruses, just preventatives). Right now all we can do medically is to try to keep the patient alive until their own body can fight off the virus and this is why ventilators and all that are really important.

          I've had the virus and got over it a couple of weeks ago with just minor post-viral pneumonia to show for it while my lungs are healing. The virus hit my lungs rather than my throat therefore I didn't have a cough, just bad chest pains and a somewhat reduced lung capacity.

          Was it bad for me? No because I don't have any underlying breathing issues, or other serious health issues, and healthy lungs and the ability to fight off a virus are the key factors. Elderly people have a reduced ability to fight off new diseases and often have lung related issues as well therefore it's particularly bad for them.

          For me, it was a bit worse than the usual seasonal flu which I tend to just ignore and get on with my life. However I was left short of breath, dizzy and confused as a result and even a just 15 minute telephone call resulted in a nap for an hour afterwards. For anyone with existing lung issues it would have been very unpleasant and very bad and likely to have required urgent medical intervention. If someone also had a reduced immune system and their body is slow to fight off the virus, it would spread much faster and be even more serious.

          It's never been about me catching the virus, I expected to really, it's about me not passing it onto those that will suffer from it, mostly the elderly and those with existing lung conditions or weakened immune systems. There are also the occasional outliers who either has a genetic weakness to the virus, undiagnosed health issues or just crap unlucky and rather than start with a small infection get a large dose of it to start off with and thereby overloading their system before their bodies can fight it off... such as health care workers who are not given enough protective equipment.

      9. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: We know what you did ...

        Bob are you also someone who happens to have the mistaken belief that the Covid-19 virus is caused by 5G masts? Because if so, boy I have got great person for you to listen to. His name is David Ike (please Google him) and he sounds like he'd be right up your street.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: We know what you did ...

          No need for insults.

      10. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: We know what you did ...

        Bob if the deaths aren't any worse than seasonal flu why does my annual travel insurance have a new Covid-19 clause? Why are New York undertakers overwhelmed?

        To quote from the Fox News website

        Brooklyn undertaker Thomas Cheeseman said funeral homes are so backed up, some people will inevitably end up being temporarily interred.

        Cheeseman said the new deadlines are putting a strain on funeral homes as more and more families seek arrangements for loved ones fallen by coronavirus.

        “We, the funeral directors, are overwhelmed,” Cheeseman said. “We’re inundated. The crematory can’t even take bodies for two weeks. The funeral homes don’t have refrigerated trucks parked out front.”

        That doesn't sound like a normal month of April to me. I'm currently living with a relative who is in their 70's supporting them as they're vulnerable. I'm worried that an early 70s slightly overweight person who I'm not very fond of will catch this virus and die. before they can be voted for in November.

        My family actually own property in the USA and it's where I usually spend my summer holiday. Unless there's a vaccine available and we are vaccinated there's not a snowball's chance hell any of us will be going to visit it this year.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

    Near the end of the paper, they say something different:

    "If this is an accurate picture of viral spread in Europe and not an artefact of early growth, epidemic control with only case isolation and quarantining of traced contacts appears implausible in this case, requiring near-universal App usage and near-perfect compliance." [Bold mine] It looks far more than 60%.

    Moreover without a way to quickly test possible cases, how long it would take to lockdown again a large number of people? How many "contacts" there could be before a case is identified as a real covid one, as long as hospitals can't test enough people? And how many people these have had contacts with meanwhile?

    There's evidences asymptomatic and per-symptomatic people are infectious. Without testing them you'd need to quarantine them all. Can they avoid the avalanche effect? Or they would just recommend to watch out for symptoms, which may be ineffective?

    1. Persona Silver badge

      Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

      Without testing them you'd need to quarantine them all

      Even if you do test them there is a time lag between infection, being contagious and testing positive. A negative test does not mean they don't have the virus: it just means that at the moment the test was done no virus was detected.

      There are confirmed cases of people spreading the virus to multiple contacts but still testing negative even after the people they have infected are showing symptoms. Eventually they do go on to test positive but they can have multiple negative tests first.

      1. TDog

        Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

        The lag calculation is theory at it simplest. Suppose Bob is infected by Alice. He manifests with the disease and is identified 10 days later. Now Alice is asymptomatic or else does not register as having the disease.

        Along go the tracers to Alice, unaware that she infected Bob. Even if they can access her anonymous data (shome mistake shureley?) immediately they will have lost 10 /16ths of her contacts - over 60% of her contact list. So in order to identify and trace contacts holding data for only 14 - 16 days is ill thought out and ineffective.

        1. EnviableOne Silver badge

          Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

          Surley Eve should be infecting Bob, Alice is a whitehat afterall

        2. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

          Steady on, I know BombasticBob has his detractors but let's not wish a life threatening illness on him.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

            Steady on, I know BombasticBob has his detractors but let's not wish a life threatening illness on him

            Yes, having read a few of his, erm, lets be polite and call them rants, his blood pressure is inevitably sky high, so with an underlying health condition, being male and probably middle aged, he's a member of a group who are much more likely to develop severe, potentially life threatening symptoms if infected.

            So stay safe Bob.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

      The 60% appears to be implied from an R0 figure of 2.5.

      Another recent paper has estimated an R0 of 5.7 which which woud require 82%.

      These percentages represent the proportion of the UK population that has to non-susceptible (i.e. immune) for Herd Immunity to work.

      To achieve Herd Immunity without a virus with a population of 70 milion, taking the current German Death Rate of 2.94% (because the official UK figures are rubbish and not representative of the infection rate within the general population), then you get an estimated number of deaths require for Herd Immunity to be in excess of 1,000,000.

      The above assumes all uninfected individuals are susceptible. The alternatives is to play Russian Roulette on everybody.

      So a government policy advocating Herd Immunity without a vaccine is tantamount to Genocide.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

        Fortunately, someone has considered the fact that fatalities are not a percentage of the whole population. The elderly and those with know underlying medical conditions that make them significantly more susceptible are being shielded or encouraged to be better isolated. Nursing homes are becoming a problem because the isolation in place (to date) has been insufficient - and with the majority of residents in the more susceptible category, once the virus is present in sufficient numbers, it has tragic effects. However, the overall effect is still that it doesn't imply 1m deaths to obtain herd immunity (i.e. ongoing infections will remain localised, in the main).

        It's already been written that releasing the lockdown before there has been an effective testing and vaccination programme, the effect will be to maintain ongoing infections, but at a level that doesn't overwhelm the NHS, etc. Lockdown until, say, mid 2021 or accept that there will be more fatalities. The biggest cause of death is, of course, birth - all statistics regarding individual risks of death end up at 1. We will all die - but we don't want that to be just yet.

        For me and the missus, the lockdown isn't really a problem as we already live fairly isolated lives; it just stops unwanted relatives calling on us to check we're still OK.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

          Ye gods.

          Quick thing to do to check whether the reported covid death stats are likely to be valid.

          Let's just look at the total deaths last week, compared to "normal".

          In England and Wales:

          The provisional number of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending 3 April 2020 (Week 14) was 16,387; this represents an increase of 5,246 deaths registered compared with the previous week (Week 13) and 6,082 more than the five-year average.

          Mic, as they say, drop.

          Source: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/datasets/weeklyprovisionalfiguresondeathsregisteredinenglandandwales

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

            Picking the w/e 3-Apr-20 could be considered evidence of confirmation bias. Looking at the ONS stats for the weeks before that one and we see the rate fairly level at around 11,000 deaths per week (down from a peak of 14k in January). The increase is alarming (and well in excess of normal variation) but such an increase on it's own needs more investigation. We can be confident that the increase is probably due to Covid-19 but I would question whether it represents such a large increase for that week - ONS have stated that death statistics take time to collate.

            To take a conspiratorial view, that week was just into the lockdown so some might argue that the increase was a direct effect of the lockdown - not so much Covid-19 but increased deaths from stress, starvation, constipation (shortage of toilet rolls), domestic violence, etc. Just imagine how some extreme left-pondians (including the orange one) might love that!

            "One swallow does not a summer make" - we know Covid-19 is leading to an increase in premature deaths but we don't really know by how much. Professor David Spiegelhalter did some research that suggested, overall, the main effect of Cover-19 is to compress annual deaths into a shorter period: for people with a statistical life expectancy of one year it might now be two weeks. That's where statistics isn't really helpful (or necessarily meaningful) to an individual - but it's looking at the whole population where we are each no more than a number.

            Covid-19 is serious and we must take strong measures to address it. Perhaps the best outcome will be that we (and governments) will be better prepared for subsequent pandemics - which, in this age of global mobility, will be inevitable. But then, the only certainties in life are death and taxes (albeit not in that order).

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

            It looks worrying, but we don't know how many of these people would have died soon anyway. Something which clears hospices and care homes of their weaker residents a few days, weeks or even months early is not the same as something cutting a swathe through the young, fit population.

            The BBC is careful to report the death of a cute child or a much loved nurses every day, presumably to keep us all safely locked up as we should be, but the fact is that most of those dying were circling the drain anyway.

      3. Mark 65

        Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

        Although they may have spit-balled something idiotic, you do realise that herd immunity also comes from vaccination, right? The fact is that this virus is going nowhere and herd immunity will be the only way out, however it is achieved.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

      "It looks far more than 60%."

      just wait until "powers that be" INSIST compliance be MANDATORY... so you should NEVER let THIS kind of thing "become popular" in ANY WAY - or kiss your privacy GOODBYE!

      Because... it is the NATURE of gummints to GRAB POWER in the face of a crisis, and THEN... NEVER! LET! IT! GO! AGAIN!!! (encroach, encroach, encroach, as long as you LET *THEM* !!!)

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

        Please stop ranting.

        However you are quite correct, once given power governments are usually very unkeen to let it go. In the UK some more sensible people forced the government to put a six month review period on the Coronavirus Act 2020 - as in it has to be specifically voted on again to continue for another six months.

    4. Brangdon Bronze badge

      Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

      It has a beneficial effect even if it isn't perfect. Anything that helps get R0 down is good.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Oxford paper doesn't say 60% is really enough

        Brandon said, of the 60% not bring enough for herd immunity:

        "It [60% of people being immune] has a beneficial effect even if it isn't perfect. Anything that helps get R0 down is good."

        I'm unsure why he's got 4 downvotes. The more people with immunity, the slower the virus will spread.

        The current lockdown will be relaxed for a time until infections rise and it's tightened again until infections fall.

        This cycle will be repeated multiple times until the population has been vaccinated.

        The slower it spreads, the shorter the tightened lockdowns and the longer the periods between them.

        **READ THIS BIT BEFORE DOWNVOTING**

        A better alternative, in terms of both avoiding deaths and impact on people's lives, is for sufficient contact tracing and testing. We did not have the equipment or reagents to do this when it started, and now the virus is so widespread we still do not have it despite massively ramping up our capability.

        Essentially, we knew a pandemic would hit at some point but didn't get or maintain a stockpile of PPE, testing equipment or reagents. Given that failure, the clusterfuck/poor-country/bad governance option of 'series of lockdowns, social isolation for vulnerable until vaccine' is needed.

        While I'm rambling (sorry) just want to vent about the Bobs who say it's only slightly worse than flu so why all the fuss, and point to the current and projected deaths:

        Yes Bob, those are the projected deaths for if we do something. If we do nothing then we have a shit-ton of early deaths due to people dying because they didn't get a bed and oxygen (not ventilator... just a bed and oxygen would be in short supply) and a shit-ton of deaths because all other healthcare grinds to a halt because half the staff are ill and the other half are dealing with COVID-19 patients.

        Basically Bob, things don't look that bad because the adults did something, instead of your nothing, and we never got to clusterfuck stage.

        Clue: we have large scale vaccination programmes against flu and herd immunity against flu. We have no vaccination against this. No herd immunity against this. It doesn't have to be much worse than flu to be a lot worse than flu.

        Sorry for length but work it's been kinda hard at work recently.

  4. JohnG Silver badge

    It is probably worth mentioning that Singapore open sourced a substantial part of their efforts in this area:

    https://bluetrace.io/

    https://github.com/OpenTrace-community

    1. AVee

      Yeah, I'm hearing very little of that in all these discussions. I didn't dive deeply into what they build, but at first glance it seems pretty sensible. And even where it isn't sensible according to our standards, it's open source so it can be adapted where needed.

      But somehow most countries seems to insist on reinventing the wheel...

  5. Gomez Adams

    I look forward to installing the Windows Mobile 81 version of the app on my phone.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I look forward to ...

      The phone's os hijacking the anonymized data, sending it back to central servers, and de-anonymizing it by cross referencing the various datasets. I presume the intent is that this should be impossible, but no doubt just one small slip in the implementation...

      .. also, I'm worried about the orbital mind control lasers. :-)

    2. The Dogs Meevonks
      Coat

      Good luck with the anonymity... I mean.. how do you make 5 users truly anonymous. :)

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        The ONS standards are that any number less than 10 is unreportable due to being too narrow in scope.

  6. TheProf Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Titanic thinking

    Whatever happened to the idea of planning for disasters?

    It's not like global pandemics are a new thing. They've been threatening us for as long as there's been life on this planet.

    Books, movies and TV have shown all sorts of contagious diseases ravaging the world's population and what has been the result of all this red flag waving? A rather dubious mobile phone app knocked up over the last weekend that relies on people volunteering to use it.

    Don't worry. By the next pandemic we'll have sorted out the problems with the app and everyone will be really keen to install on their phone.

    In the meantime here are some DIY PPE patterns for you to cut-out and colour with felt tip pens.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Whatever happened to the idea of planning for disasters?

      More like, "Whatever happened to the idea of planning?" But here the answer is always the same, short, sweet, to the point: "Fine idea"

      I mean, there were, apparently, some lessons learnt post previous (sars) outbreak. At least this is what the politicos in a few EU countries tried to peddle as an excuse to keep the plebs from panic stocking toilet paper.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Whatever happened to the idea of planning for disasters?

        > More like, "Whatever happened to the idea of planning?" But here the answer is always the same, short, sweet, to the point: "Fine idea"

        Yet another know it all with no fucking clue. Where do you think the 4000 beds and cubicles for the Nightingale Hospitals came from? Do you think they were made to order in 9 days?

        Have you tried storing anything in a warehouse for 10-15 years awaiting the next pandemic, let alone face masks and gowns that will be damp and unusable after 3 months? What's that Skippy, he's fallen down the mineshaft trying to retrieve his emergency stock of rectal thermometers?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Whatever happened to the idea of planning for disasters?

          >Where do you think the 4000 beds and cubicles for the Nightingale Hospitals came from? Do you think they were made to order in 9 days?

          There's nowhere near that many beds, they put a few hundred across the various sites. When patients are transferred they are moved with and supported by staff and equipment (including bed) from the referring hospital.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: Whatever happened to the idea of planning for disasters?

            Nightingale Excel has 500 beds.

            There is floor space for another 3500 more, just like your corporate datacenter has room for a few more servers. Whether the aircon (or O2 lines) are sized to handle that extra load is a different question.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Whatever happened to the idea of planning for disasters?

              There are 3600 Nightingale beds across the country. They're not in use. But the beds physically exist.

        2. Mark192 Bronze badge

          Re: Whatever happened to the idea of planning for disasters?

          I'll bite... I used to look after a warehouse but it was just catering disposables.

          I'd assume gloves probably the worst... Call it 3 years for gloves stored in a cool place. Cooling for above-ground warehouse prohibitive so we can use underground storage facilities. The government likely has some facilities left from back in the 50's when we stored quite a bit of stuff underground....

          I appreciate that this is too expensive for hospitals or NHS Trusts to do this. It'd need to be a central government thing and it'd cost a lot... but if we had a more infectious and deadly virus our healthcare workers would be facing similar death rates to WWII bomber command...

          Please reply back with the flaws in my thinking - I'm genuinely interested.

          1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

            Re: Whatever happened to the idea of planning for disasters?

            surely the solution for not having 50 year old gloves at the next emergency , is to keep a stockpile but rotate it?

            In other words to the exact opposite of this "Just-in-time" shit that has been all the rage in recent years , that seems to serve only to make any business or system extremely fragile for no apparent benefit

    2. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: Titanic thinking

      There were plans, as a matter of fact. The UK government developed detailed plans for dealing with a pandemic. The only problem is that they planned for a flu pandemic, which would have behaved rather differently to this one, so much of the early response - once the pandemic was known - has been inadequate to the problem at hand.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Titanic thinking

        Better to have a hospital and not needing the beds than needing the beds and not having a hospital.

        1. SundogUK Silver badge

          Re: Titanic thinking

          That's not necessarily true if the opportunity cost of having those hospitals means money cannot be spent on cures for other illnesses. The trick is to work out where best to spend the money to safeguard the largest number of lives possible. People have been working on this problem for centuries and it is not easy.

  7. wibblethribble

    One big problem with the bluetooth approach

    There is one problem with the BT solution - it only records contacts that are in the same place at the same time. The virus is viable outside the body for a period of time (varies according substrate, temperature, etc.) so the app doesn't cover the use case of an infectious carrier contaminating a surface, which shortly afterwards is touched by another person. At that point the original carrier is well outside BT range so won't be recorded by the app.

    Admittedly this is less likely to result in transmission than close proximity, but is a good reminder to wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

    1. JohnGrantNineTiles

      Re: One big problem with the bluetooth approach

      For more problems with it see Ross Anderson's blog post at https://www.lightbluetouchpaper.org/2020/04/12/contact-tracing-in-the-real-world/

    2. FeepingCreature

      Re: One big problem with the bluetooth approach

      It's significantly easier to not touch surfaces and then your face, than it is to not pass within a meter of another person, especially in supermarkets. Where you put your hands is within your control; where other people put their body is not.

  8. coconuthead

    iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

    From a quick look around the Apple–Google scheme, it appears it will require an iOS update on the iPhone.

    There are probably a lot of people whose phones can run iOS 13, but have been avoiding it because of reports of serious bugs: in the Wifi hotspot, speakerphone, Safari and other important functions. Having a reliable phone is more important than privacy issues at the moment. If I do end up in hospital my smartphone will be pretty important to me!

    Apple are quite capable of blocking, and do block, security updates to iOS 12 for any phone which can run iOS 13. There is no reason to think they will do things any differently here.

    The Singapore app, on the other hand, just runs on what is there.

    1. Ste Van De Mull

      Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

      And an IOS phone that can keep running Bluetooth for more than a couple of hours is a joke, so much for GDPR. Your having a larf.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

        Not sure how old and decrepit your iPhone is but mine will easily run for at least 2/3 days if I just use it as a phone with an hour or two of calls/day. Start playing games and checking every 5 minutes how may likes I'm getting on farcebook, etc and it wouldn't last a day. But as a phone (and with BT and wifi enabled) it's battery only needs topping very 2/3 nights - once its battery is down to 40%. It's a *phone*. If the battery dies after a few hours, probably time to upgrade to the 4 or 4S!

    2. EnviableOne Silver badge

      Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

      From iOS 10.3 there is an MDM API call to force iOS updates.

      Now if it comes to this, i belive apple could fire off this process without the users permission to force an upgrade to 13.19

      it may be a massive imposition on some, but i'm sure you comuld proably find a clause in the T&Cs that would allow them to do it.

      Google habe a simillar function that they can push the core enabling patches in the Android system layer

      1. Mark 65

        Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

        At the point at which Apple force a spyware update to my phone against my will the phone will either be jail-broken or physically broken. They do not have the right and I will not tolerate this power grab bullshit. It doesn’t work and it won’t work. I go out without my phone, my phone runs out of battery etc etc, what then? Idiots.

        1. gnasher729 Silver badge

          Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

          If the UK government says so, they have the right.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

          The system is opt-in even if you have the update.

        3. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

          oh i get it , so you're exempt from the effort to mitigate the spread of the pandemic? just in case somebody knows where you were at any given time.

          You remind me of the idiots that come into the police station and say "Yoov got our shazza in ere"

          "ok whats your name?"

          "I DONT HAVE TO TELL YOU THAT COPPER!!"

          "my phone runs out of battery etc etc" - picking holes is not a better solution.

          1. Mark 65

            Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

            Neither is coming up with shit solutions.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: iOS update would be a blocker on the Apple–Google scheme

      Apple is still issuing updates to iOS 12, so that small number who are "avoiding" iOS 13 along with the much larger number of 5S/6/SE owners who can't run iOS 13 can be included.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I like what I read in this article

    It seems to me that the EU has once again responded to a situation with the proper attitude and the respect of privacy is visibly paramount in the documentation.

    I very much appreciate that the first item in the article is the fact that the app will shut down automatically and the data will be erased at the end of the crisis. It means that the EU very much intends this tool to do one thing and one thing only : help pinpoint actual case contacts, and nothing more.

    I have but one question : it took China less than four months to flatten the curve. This app will not be available before June, apparently, and we're already on our second month of containment. It seems to me that, by the time we get the app, we won't be needing it any more.

    At least I hope not.

    1. Mark #255

      Re: I like what I read in this article

      It will be very useful for the second wave following the relaxation of lockdown, and for Covid-20, Covid-21, Covid-22...

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: I like what I read in this article

        China are starting into their second wave.

        The whole point of an app like this is to try to manage the second, third, fourth etc waves, to ensure each is smaller than before.

        I've heard this approach described as "the hammer and the dance". Once the first wave is hammered flat, the dance over the future waves of cases begins.

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: I like what I read in this article

      It seems to me that the EU has once again responded to a situation with the proper attitude

      Yes, because I'm sure all the dead Italians and their grieving families consider Von Der Lyin' apologizing for the shameful actions of the rEU to be fair recompense for needlessly losing their lives (in some cases).

      They have again given the lie to all their talk of unity, solidarity, and mutual aid. There's no place to hide for them now and all the wishful thinking about "proper attitude" can't wash away their sins.

      1. Claverhouse Silver badge

        Re: I like what I read in this article

        Do tell.

    3. Mark 65

      Re: I like what I read in this article

      it took China less than four months to flatten the curve

      Only if you believe their numbers and, frankly, there’s more than a hint of bullshit about them.

    4. SundogUK Silver badge

      Re: I like what I read in this article

      China lied.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They way I see it is for this to work it maybe has to be carrier side and not anonymous. Not everyone will install or be able to install the app and those gaps will allow it to continue to spread. If the app said I had contact with 10 people but I had contact with 20 that's another 10 people who can then go on to infect others if I had it.

    The privacy implications of this while it appears they are being considered will most likely fall at the way side as we go along. Like we found out with Prism this will be a put laws in place to cover what we already do scenario. The bluetooth side of this just adds accuracy to what they already have.

    1. Down not across

      They way I see it is for this to work it maybe has to be carrier side and not anonymous.

      Good thing I still have drawer full of old Nokia Symbian phones. Good luck pushing any crap onto those.

      Problem with carriers and governments is that they cant, in general, be trusted.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        "Problem with carriers and governments is that they can't, in general, be trusted."

        EXACTLY!

        (I have an old 'dumb' phone with a no-data prepaid plan that I rarely use, nearly always OFF, but handy when needed - prepaid is $100/year and it rolls over if I renew it in time)

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Ditto: but being in a less exorbitant country, and which is obsessed with cell-phones, I pay £60 for unlimited calls and texts.

          = $75.

          I never text.

    2. genghis_uk Bronze badge

      This bit you miss is that government misuse of data is not just a hypothetical, foil-hat argument. There are far too many real world examples of abuse. Government database access can be granted to organisations way beyond the original scope and oversight is minimal.

      Hell, local councils are using anti-terror laws to spy on how people use their bins (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/3333366/Half-of-councils-use-anti-terror-laws-to-spy-on-bin-crimes.html) what do you think they could do with data showing your every movement? every contact?

      This is not big brother where you are a small needle in a large haystack, this could, with only a slight tweak become very localised and very personal.

      1. LucreLout Silver badge

        This is not big brother where you are a small needle in a large haystack, this could, with only a slight tweak become very localised and very personal.

        Indeed - the pressure to tweak this to aid law enforcement would be all but unbearable should some photogenic child go missing while this is in operation. You may agree with universal tracking or you may disagree with it, both are valid opinions, but I think only an idiot would consider universal tracking sneaked in by the back door to be a good thing. If there's a case, make it, if there's none, well.....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not everyone will install or be able to install the app

      yeah , through willfull laziness, selfishness , indifference and stubborness.

      Start giving heavy fines for being on the street without it , and people would soon be a bit less lethargic about it.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another nanny state idiocy

    First off, my Android phone is so old and knackered that having Bluetooth permanently enabled will flatten the battery in an hour or so, and good luck getting anything new on it (storage full warnings even though it's got two photos for use as wallpaper and that's it...) - it won't even play nice with the latest version of Play Store but I only use it to phone or text 'Er Indoors and those functions still work perfectly well thank you - and she has the Facebook app on hers, so I really don't need to worry about *my* phone being a security risk!

    Secondly, " But they’re also seen as a tool that will make it possible to loosen lockdowns because, by tracing encounters that lead to infections, they have the potential to make it possible to understand who needs to be in isolation and who can roam more freely." I assume "understand who needs to be in isolation" means targeted lockdowns of anyone/everyone in a particular area at a particular time as against "a 29-year-old female in this locale has it therefore any other 29-y-o female in the area must be locked up while everyone else goes about their business" - but what happens if the "victim" was in a car at the time and not in face-to-face contact with anyone else? What if some of those people have had it and recovered and can't get it again - they can still carry & transmit it so do they need to be locked down too?

    Thank $deity the EU are here to look after us, I feel so much safer. But what's that, the UK was supposed to have left the EU six months after the Referendum - several years ago? Might be waiting for that app for a while then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: another nanny state idiocy

      Don't worry, you'll get the UK version of the app, free of all that privacy protection malarkey.

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: another nanny state idiocy

        at least being UK and not EU you can tell the 'powers that be' how far and how hard and even WHERE to pack sand! You still make YOUR OWN decisions, and everybody involved has to get RE-ELECTED somehow [this is the SAME process facing U.S. politicians at the moment, so they BETTER watch their asses!]. THAT as opposed to a bunch of EU bureaucrats "DECIDING".

        1. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Re: another nanny state idiocy

          Indeed, the average citizen in Britain or America has an awesome amount of power, and can influence government policy in a way undreamt of in totalitarian states.

          And of course each and every one is wise and informed enough to know what must be done and instruct their beloved leaders what to do, unanimously.

        2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: another nanny state idiocy

          THAT as opposed to a bunch of EU bureaucrats "DECIDING".

          Ahem, there are plenty of non-elected people and organisations influencing and directing UK Government policy for their own vested interests, and not the general UK population at large

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: another nanny state idiocy

            yeah, unfortunately true in the USA as well, with bureaucrats "going rogue" on occasion. The elected folks are SUPPOSED to keep an eye on them (and recent history shows just how bad it can get at times). ThOSE wheels do grind slowly, but at least the DOJ is doing something now over some past abuses. This as opposed to (at least my perception of) EU, which appears to give the unelected "overseers" considerably more independent power over the citizens...

        3. Headley_Grange Silver badge

          Re: another nanny state idiocy

          True - Dominic Cummings got my vote in the last election.

          1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: another nanny state idiocy

            I see someone's downvoted this.

            I wasn't sure which should it be, so I abstained from voting on the post, as, to me, the statement could be taken either way:

            "Yes, I voted for what Dominic Cummings represented"

            Or

            "Nobody "voted" for Dominic Cummings at the last election, but look how influential he is on those who did get voted in"

            1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

              Re: another nanny state idiocy

              @F&N; Thanks for the benefit of the doubt. My post was a poorly signalled sarcastic response to Bombastic Bob's comment that "everybody involved has to get elected" and intended to point out that no one voted for Dominic Cummings but, if we can believe what we read in the press, he has more real power in making policy in the UK than many, if not most, of the rest of our elected representatives.

        4. Glen 1 Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: another nanny state idiocy

          "everybody involved has to get RE-ELECTED"

          Same goes for the *elected* MEPs. The commissioners are appointed, but they are appointed by the *elected* heads of state, and then ratified by the *elected* European Parliament.

          Sidenote: I always find it amusing that Nigel Farage has *never* been a UK MP, despite standing multiple times. He has been an M*E*P, largely down to the fairer voting system used during the European Elections.

          What's the word i'm looking for, like goldy and bronzy...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: another nanny state idiocy

      my Android phone is so old and knackered that ....

      Well you'se not allowed outside then cheapwad!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...no relation...to PII" -- really?

    Requirement: "Pseudonyms should have no relation to long-lived personally identifiable information (PII)"

    1. OK...but how about INDEPENDENT testing against this requirement.

    2. The requirement demands the ABSENCE of data. What if the app tries to hide relationship data (e.g. encryption, data disguised as something permissible)?

    3. Whatever.....I'll still be using my ten year old 2G feature phone!

  13. KorndogDev
    Paris Hilton

    So how exactly will this work...

    OK, we are 3 or 6 months from now and this app is widely used. You've planned your trip, vacation or a business meeting. Or it's just your brother with his family coming to visit you from another country. And imagine that one day before that event your application starts beeping: hey, person A was close to person B, person B met with person C, person C and D were on the same bus a week ago. And you are person D, person A tested positive.

    Will you cancel all your plans just because of that? Well, will you?

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: So how exactly will this work...

      Will you cancel all your plans just because of that? Well, will you?

      How immunocompromised are any of the people I'm likely to meet? What is their susceptibility to adverse Covid outcomes? I get that this application will end up mostly pointless and possibly unworkable, however, notification of potential exposure may influence my plans for any number of reasons.

      The real problem is that your phone won't start beeping one day before the event, it'll have been beeping constantly from the moment you turned on the app and started collecting data.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apple and google save the world...

    quote "Apple and Google have weighed in, saying they’ll tune their mobile operating systems to help the apps operate, a crucial step as current apps use Bluetooth yet smartphones don’t allow the wireless protocol to operate constantly."

    issue: Only 35% of handsets in use receive updates, other 65% are too old or just not updated. Release process through suppliers (telco's) does not help here.

    note: Apple and Google's initiative is so good a match, they designed for or in conjunction with the EU guidelines. This is good news unless all is tied in with pushing new phones because only they are compatible though this may be deemed a somewhat cynical view.

    quote "Only after a user has been confirmed infected, the proximity data of that user may be uploaded to the central server and/or the competent health authorities."

    issue: No testing is available, no reliable testing is available soon if at all.

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Re: Apple and google save the world...

      Apple, as a manufacturer, is in the position of being able to slash the prices of their phones to, say, 10%, or even donate free iPhones to each one of the huddled masses.

  15. EBG
    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      You talkin’ to me?

      You talkin’ to me?

      You talkin’ to me?

      Well, then who the hell else are you talking – You talking to me?

      Well, I’m the only one here. Who the f**k do you think you’re talking to?

  16. Randesigner

    I've done extensive research into Bluetooth LE (BLE) use with beacons. BLE signals can travel through walls, cars, etc. So the app is going to make the erroneous assumption that if it's picking up an UUID of a confirmed infected user, I will have had face to face contact with that person and would be infected. So then what? Will I be required to quarantine or get a test? This would be a daily occurrence. Imagine living in an apartment complex and your next door neighbor is infected. Due to the close RF proximity and potential length of time of the phones interacting with each other, I would be flagged as being infected.

    The app is going to be far from perfect, but the real issue is going to be collateral damage for all the cases where there is no physical or air contact, but still be collared as infected.

    1. ilmari

      The benefits accumulated from years of living densely has come back to reclaim.

      Those who have endured living sparsely now find they're less restricted than the fat cats of the cities.

      People in "full" quarantine conditions in the cities, will still be served better by home deliveries or groceries, pizza, and other exotic take away foods than the unquarantined man outside the city. The city people have in some cases paid ludicrous amounts of money for their dwellings, and if they're quarantined it will be a relatively short period of their life confined to enjoy what is definitely the largest investment in their life.

      Take a moment to stop and think about what really matters in life.

      1. Glen 1 Silver badge

        Counterpoint: The cheapest housing is in inner city areas where the population is densest. (high crime, low quality housing) In many cases people live there because it's all they can afford.

        In rural areas, the house prices are pushed up by rich folk buying retirement properties or second homes. I would love to live somewhere more sparse (and still commutable to work), but can't afford it.

        1. schermer

          Sorry?? The housing in the inner city is in Europe(at least in the part where I live) by far the priciest ... Must be an American thing?

          1. Glen 1 Silver badge

            When I say 'Inner City', I don't mean the city centre.

            I mean the houses just outside (as in the inner bit, not the centre) That in the UK at least would have been tenements built to house factory workers.

            Unless you think those living (possibly renting) in High Crime areas, with low quality housing are secretly rich?

  17. Olius

    Tracing who has been in possible contact with whom is all well and good, but without knowing who is currently infected it becomes a bit tricky. With the UK's particularly lax testing regime, we basically have no source data.

    I can see in the article that it stores data on potential contacts, and when someone who you have had recent contact with later tests positive for Covid, I guess you are flagged as vulnerable to getting it and (hopefully) notified of when the interaction took place. But what of all the people who get it but don't become confirmed cases, and so don't become data points?

    Maybe I'm being a bit thick as usual :-)

    Can anyone explain to me how this will work? At this stage of the pandemic, it only seems superficially helpful. If it was much earlier on, it might have indicated particular quarantine areas and so on, but now it's everywhere it seems like too little too late (Unless our testing regime is MASSIVELY stepped up)

    Here's another thought: If there are a chain of people all notified that they have had contact with each other and the first person has tested positive, if the 3rd person then tests negative, would all the downstream people be notified that they don't need to worry any more? Or would it not work like this, and only be concerned with the one-on-one interactions and not the whole chain?

  18. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    If the future of the human race depends on Bluetooth, we're fucked. It's been around over twenty years and is still the least reliable form of communication ever devised.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Needs to happen ASAP

    Broad testing and contact tracing is the only way to get our economies back while preventing mass death. It’s that simple. Everyone’s negativity around this approach is causing us to drag our feet here, resulting is more deaths and prolonged economic devastation. We don’t need 100% coverage to make this work. Getting R below 1.0 is all that is required to win.

    I can’t imagine most people not telling everyone they know to install such an app. The uptake will be enormous.

    Of course we need to ramp up testing by converting all the idle resources of our economies to producing what we need. That said being negative wrt the other component of the solution, cell phone based contract tracing, will only slow the pace of development at our peril

    Locking up the vulnerable while we all catch chicken pox isn’t a solution. Where I live in Canada over half the deaths have been in our nursing homes where these people are already locked up.

    We’ve known about this solution via its success in Sourh Korea for quite some time now. It’s time we demand our governments in the western world to get off their asses and get on with it already

    1. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: Needs to happen ASAP

      I can’t imagine most people not telling everyone they know to install such an app. The uptake will be enormous.

      Statistically, fewer than 1% of the people I know that think they've had Covid can possibly have had it. The prevalence of the virus through society simply isn't high enough. What that translates into is an awful lot of false amber warnings if people self notify - far in excess of any accuracy that would make the system acceptable.

      Then, of course, you have the assclowns that think Covid is "just Boomer remover" who are merrily going about their day unimpeded by lockdown. The last survey I saw had 20% of people freely admitting they break the rules several times per day. Do you think those people will use the app and use it properly? Really?

      1. Olius

        Re: Needs to happen ASAP

        "Statistically, fewer than 1% of the people I know that think they've had Covid can possibly have had it."

        We can't possibly know that. We don't have the base data.

        In the UK we appear to be extrapolating from the death rate to the current infection rate. Given that not all covid-related deaths are (apparently/so I hear) being recorded as covid, the source data isn't perfect. And given how new this virus is, such extrapolation is a long way from perfect, too.

        I don't mean to suggest you're not correct in your assertion. I'm only suggesting that you can't, and therefore shouldn't, be so definite about it.

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Needs to happen ASAP

          I don't mean to suggest you're not correct in your assertion. I'm only suggesting that you can't, and therefore shouldn't, be so definite about it.

          I'm a lot closer to being right in my numbers than the people I know who think they have had it and now assume they are immune.

          Ball park, I'd say >50% of the people I know - friends, colleagues, people from various clubs and societies etc, all think they have had Covid. They're sure of it. I'd suggest that is extremely unlikely to be anywhere near the number that have actually had it, which is likely to be much closer to 1% than 50%.

          I accept your point that I shouldn't be so precise and hadn't intended to be exact.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Needs to happen ASAP

        Doesn’t need to be self reported. Don’t think that’s how it was done in South Korea

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