Thursday, 11 August 2022 08:46

COVIDSafe app killed off, helped detect 2 cases at $10m a pop Featured

COVIDSafe app killed off, helped detect 2 cases at $10m a pop Image by PIRO from Pixabay

The Federal Government has killed off the COVIDSafe app that was built by the former Liberal administration, describing it as "wasteful and ineffective".

A statement issued by Health Minister Mark Butler noted that while more than $21 million was spent on the app, only two COVID-19 cases were found through the app that had not been found through the regular process of contact tracing.

Seventeen close contacts of COVID-19 cases that had not been found through manual contact tracing were found by the app.

Butler's statement pointed out that 7.9 million people had registered and downloaded the app between April 2020 and May 2022.

The app is still present on the Google Play Store but on installing it and opening it, the screen seen on the right, below, comes up, advising that it is not being used any more.

covid safeButler's note said development of the app had cost more than $10 million, advertising and marketing had eaten up $7 million, maintenance a further $2.1 million and staff who tended to it had been paid $2 million.

"The last upload of data from users to the National COVIDSafe Data Store occurred in May 2021, and there has been no access to the data store by state and territory authorities since January 2022," the statement said.

Butler said: "“This failed app was a colossal waste of more than $21 million of taxpayers' money. This is a trademark of the former government, which treated taxpayer’s money like their own.

“The former prime minister said this app would be our 'sunscreen' against COVID-19 – all it did was burn through taxpayers' money.

“This failed app only found two unique positive COVID cases at the cost of more than $10 million each.

“It was contact tracers working on the ground who were the real success story, not this failed app. It is clear this app failed as a public health measure and that’s why we’ve acted to delete it.”

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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