The news that the full trial and traceability program may not be up and running until September has led some to think that this applies to the NHS contact tracking app, rather than the wider manual tracking effort.
The confusion is understandable – after all, it wasn’t long ago that ministers spoke as if the app were the centerpiece of the program rather than the “icing on the cake” as Baroness Harding described this week.
My understanding is that the app, which has actually gone through a series of delays, should still be implemented nationally by the end of June or early July, although there is no guarantee that the calendar will not slide further. .
After a first trial with an app with very limited capabilities on the Isle of Wight, version two, which presents five questions about the symptoms instead of two and integrates the testing process, is being tested in a secret London location.
I understand that this version will be launched as an update for the residents of the Isle of Wight next week.
But when that local process becomes a national implementation it is unclear.
Someone close to the project says that the team was initially told to act as a technology start-up, trying things out and changing them day after day.
Now, that person says, “Downing Street’s attitude towards risk has been typed right down – they don’t want it released until it’s perfect.”
Bluetooth contact tracking apps are a new idea and many countries around the world are trying them out.
So far, however, there is no clear evidence that they are effective.
Singapore, which pioneered the idea, struggled to get enough people to download its app, which seemed not to be working very well.
Now the government says it will hand out a wearable device to track contacts to all its citizens.