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Contact tracing apps could tackle Covid outbreak, study

Contact tracing apps could tackle Covid outbreak, study

London: Digital contact tracing apps may work in tackling the Covid-19 outbreak, a team of researchers found in their study conducted on a model of the pandemic within a simulated population.

The study results showed that if 20 per cent of the population adopted a contact tracing app on their smartphones, the outbreak could be reduced by 35 per cent. Researchers like Livio Bioglio of the University of Turin opined that if more than 30 per cent adopts the app, the pandemic could be suppressed to manageable levels.

The team developed a model that simulates a synthetic French population based on data from the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE).

The researchers used the synthetic population to explore contact tracing based on the popularity of face mask and hand wash. For that, the scenarios in which the virus was more or less transmissible were considered. They found that household isolation alone could reduce Covid-19 cases by 27 per cent when the virus was highly infectious. When the contact tracing strategy was paired with isolation, cases declined by 35 per cent, and that too, when only 20 per cent of the population adopted the app.

The research team says that the digital contact tracing strategy's effectiveness depends on a given population's immunity levels, and intervention alone could not suppress the pandemic. This is due to the rate of transmission, particularly the asymptomatic kind, which remains high.

In the report published in the journal Science Advances, the team also noted that simulating increased app adoption further reduced the cases.

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