Oxford University explores feasibility of coronavirus tracing mobile app

March 18, 2020  - By
Photo: stevanovicigor/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Photo: stevanovicigor/iStock / Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

A team of medical research and bioethics experts at Oxford University is supporting several European governments to explore the feasibility of a coronavirus (COVID-19) mobile app for instant contact tracing.

According to Oxford, the team has provided European governments, including the U.K., 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.

“Coronavirus is unlike previous epidemics and requires multiple inter-dependent containment strategies,” said Professor Christophe Fraser from Oxford University’s Big Data Institute, Nuffield Department of Medicine. “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 modeling suggests that traditional public health contact tracing methods are too slow to keep up with this virus.”

Fraser’s team at Oxford University’s Big Data Institute are continuing to simulate performance of the application so it can be adjusted to include mobile app guided coronavirus testing, and/or provide targeted responses in areas with particularly high rates of transmission, the university said.

“Current strategies are not working fast enough to intercept transmission of coronavirus,” Fraser said. “To effectively tackle this pandemic, we need to harness 21st century technology. Our research makes the case for a mobile application that accelerates our ability to trace infected people and provides vital information that keeps communities safe from this pandemic.”

About the Author: Allison Kral

Allison Kral is the former digital media manager for North Coast Media (NCM). She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University where she received a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She works across a number of digital platforms, which include creating e-newsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites. She also creates content for NCM's Pit & Quarry magazine, Portable Plants magazine and Geospatial Solutions. Her understanding of the ever-changing digital media world allows her to quickly grasp what a target audience desires and create content that is appealing and relevant for any client across any platform.