NHS Covid app closing down: Here’s when it will disappear for good as the pandemic fades and usage declines

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The NHS Covid contact-tracing app dictated our every move during the height of the pandemic, but is now set to shut down for good this week as the pandemic fades and usage dwindles.

The NHS Covid contact-tracing app, which was downloaded 31 million times during the course of the pandemic, is set to close down. The app was once required to board flights, store vaccination information and even enter bars and restaurants - but dwindling usage will see it disappear this week.

At the height of the pandemic the app dictated everyday life from which counties were safe to travel to which loved ones people could spend Christmas with. It is also credited with saving “thousands” of lives after halting infections thanks to its “track and trace” technology.

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But the app will switch off for the final time on Thursday, April 27 as the virus enters a new phase. The move is part of a drive to encourage people to “learn to live” with Covid-19, with users of the app receiving a notification this week telling them it’s being discontinued.

The app was originally launched to let people check in at venues using a QR code, inform them what restrictions were in force based on their location, and keep track of how many days they had left to isolate if they had been in contact with someone who had tested positive.

A trial was run in August 2020 on the Isle of Wight, and by October the app had garnered 16 million users across the UK. The app was later blamed for a “pingdemic” when alerts telling users to self-isolate reach record levels, leading to a shortage of workers.

The latest figures show the app has been downloaded 31,681,000 times, but there were only 103,885 downloads this year. Experts at the University of Oxford and the University of Warwick have estimated the app stopped around 44,000 hospitalisations and 9,600 deaths during its first year of operation.

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Announcing the closure last month, the Government said: “Over the past year, the success of the vaccination programme, increased access to treatments and high immunity in the population have enabled the government to target its coronavirus (COVID-19) services.

A Covid-19 vaccine record on the National Health Service (NHS) app.A Covid-19 vaccine record on the National Health Service (NHS) app.
A Covid-19 vaccine record on the National Health Service (NHS) app. | AFP via Getty Images

“This includes providing continued access to government-funded testing, vaccinations and treatments for people at highest risk from the virus. The number of people actively using the NHS COVID-19 app has steadily reduced since July 2021.

“Since access to government-funded testing ended for most people, fewer positive test results have been entered in the app and, as a result, fewer notifications have been sent to close contacts.

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