Almost a year after the launch of Immuni, the possibility for users to upload their own positivity code independently, without the intervention of a healthcare professional, arrives on the Italian tracking app of Covid-19, which triggers a warning to all close contacts. A new function that hopefully will make a contact tracing tool that never took off in our country come in handy: to date there are just over 10 million and 407 thousand downloads while the registered positive users are not even 16 thousand. Yet, according to several studies, this kind of app can help contain the infection.
The Immuni app – promoted by the government and created by the company Bending Spoons – was made available from 1 June 2020, with an experimentation started in four regions (Abruzzo, Liguria, Marche and Puglia) and then extended to the rest of Italy from June 15. It is based on the tracking platform created by Google and Apple and works with bluetooth through which the smartphones on which it is installed communicate anonymously. The operating system was developed in consultation with the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, which just a month ago gave the go ahead for the activation of the new ‘do it yourself’ tracking function. With the latest app update available for both devices with iOS and Android operating systems, the section where the user can independently upload the National Unique Code (Cun) associated with the molecular swab result becomes active. (antigen or rapid tests are not valid). In addition to this, the last eight digits of the health card and the start date of the symptoms must be entered. The procedure initially adopted to report positivity involved the mandatory intervention of a health worker, which proved to be a bottleneck due to the poor connection with the health system.
For users who need it, it is still possible to ask for assistance through the call center at 800.91.24.91, in operation since 21 December 2020. Studies carried out in several countries that have adopted an app similar to Immuni, show that they can actually help prevent infections. For example, a research team from the University of Oxford has estimated that every 1% increase in users of the English contact tracing app (adopted by 16.5 million users in February) reduces the number of infections by 0.8. -2.3%. In Europe there are 13 nations with which the Immuni app is interoperable, they could be a basis for the development of the vaccine passport, the next digital step for travel and reopening.