Coronavirus: Only 14 Alerts sent by StopCovid in Three Weeks, Why Such a Low Figure?

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Cédric O, Secretary of State for Digital, led the development of the StopCovid application.

DIGITAL: Secretary of State Cédric O gave an initial update on the mixed success of the StopCovid application with the French

A vast transparency operation with the entire Areopagus (government, Inserm, DGS, Inria, Institut Pasteur, Anssi) to raise a first veil on the effectiveness of StopCovid, three weeks after its availability on French mobile phones in as part of the overall health response.

Cédric O, the Secretary of State for Digital, shared during a press conference on Tuesday the first elements of the application’s effectiveness in combating the spread of the epidemic, without any particular triumphalism or exacerbated regrets. The general watchword? The application, which was set up in record time (two months instead of two years, according to Inria) is constantly evolving and is improving every day in the hope of representing an important solution in the event of a second wave at the autumn.

460,000 uninstalls out of 1.9 million downloads

The figures, therefore. 1.9 million downloads, including 1,816,048 activations, but a percentage of uninstalling “which has increased significantly in recent days”; 460,000 people have chosen to do without StopCovid after installing it, which the ministry explains “by the decrease in worry about the epidemic”. Out of this 1.8 million regular users, 68 declared themselves positive, and the famous central server, so much criticized, reported 205 local contacts … of which barely 14 gave rise to notifications of contact at risk. “We do not know if it is a logical figure or not logical, recognized Cédric O. The only way to better understand how people interact with the application is to do surveys in the field. 

Why so few risky contacts escalated?

To be clear, the number of detected risk contacts is the only tangible data that can judge the effectiveness of the device, since it is impossible to make the link between an identified contact at risk and a positive test (possibly) declared a few hours later. One of the working hypotheses of the ministry to explain the few contacts raised clings to a lack of pedagogy. A certain number of users would only download the application if they tested positive, which obviously has no interest.

Easily recognizing that the use of StopCovid must ramp up to provide more significant results, the Secretary of State for Digital did not give up on the rest, ardently defending the choice of France to have opted for an architecture centralized different from what Apple and Google proposed, despite the absence for the moment of European interoperability, namely the possibility of using the application this summer during holidays abroad. France is also working in collaboration with Germany and Spain on the DESIRE protocol, a little sexier than the current ROBERT protocol, to offer in mid-July a prototype of a common application “leaving the choice to States to use a centralized server or not ”.

Cnil control in progress

Before becoming incomprehensible, let us specify here that this history of the central server is at the origin of all the tensions of the sector and of the CNIL, invited to control in the coming days the methods of calculating the exposure to the application. Basically, why were 205 proximity contacts identified through their crypto-identifiers, when only 14 of them were notified? “I cannot speak for the CNIL. We do not have access to this proximity history and fears of data leaks or re-identification of users have not been proven to date ”.

Pretty proud to present the minimalist cost of StopCovid in comparison with the equivalent in our neighbours, namely a little less than 200,000 € per month between hosting, maintenance and user support, against 20 million euros for German app launched in recent days, Cédric O did not escape the comparison on another figure, the 10 million Germans who rushed to their phones to download: “What I think is that it says nothing about the application, but it says everything about our cultural differences, and possibly the difference in appreciation of government behavior. ”

“Surgical strikes” on the clusters

A government that could relaunch targeted communication campaigns if necessary on active epidemic centres, such as in Mayotte, where the telephone operators sent an SMS to all the inhabitants to encourage them to download StopCovid en masse, “with interesting results” according to Cédric O. “We have heard of this threshold of 60% of downloads necessary to stop the epidemic,” concludes Vittoria Colizza, director of research and specialist in disease modelling at Inserm, but that is not what we are considering here. I would draw a parallel with the wearing of the mask. We know that it protects and we advise to wear it without indicating a minimum percentage. It’s the same for StopCovid. “

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