Track and trace

The coronavirus app was always doomed to fail

For months now, the British public has been told there’s only one way to resume normal life: a successful virus-tracing scheme. Early on in the pandemic, the UK decided to go its own way in this area, rejecting Apple and Google’s established, decentralised app model by trying to launch its own one. NHSX would create a centralised app that funnels contact details to public health officials once somebody reported their symptoms via their phone. Bad for privacy, good for knowing exactly where infection rates were spiking in something close to real-time. Hailed as a soon-to-be ‘world beating’ app by the Prime Minister, it was launched on the Isle of Wight in