Many countries have COVID-19 symptom and tracking apps, but the World Health Organization wants to fill those gaps for those countries that are too tense to develop their own software. Bernardo Mariano of the WHO told Reuters in an interview that the company planned to release a symptom assessment app worldwide later in May. Any government could release a modified version of the app, Mariano said, but the stock version will help countries that “have nothing.
The organization is also looking at adding tracking contacts and has spoken with Apple and Google about using their joint tracking technology Legal and privacy issues have stopped WHO from hopping on board, Mariano said. Apple and Google have both promised a decentralized system that keeps data anonymous, but there are still concerns that companies may misuse data to make profits later.
Even the basic symptom app could prove vital. A globally available WHO app could better inform people who may not know what to expect from the coronavirus and encourage more people to get tested. Widespread contact tracing, meanwhile, can be crucial to society’s recovery from lockdowns – it could more accurately track the spread of the virus and help limit the scope of further closures.