On June 16th, 2020, there was not yet a Covid-19 vaccination. But there was a new warning app, with which the German government had high hopes of protecting people.
“The Corona warning app is an important helper when it comes to recognising and interrupting chains of infection,” said then-Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“This is not the first Corona app to be introduced worldwide, but I’m pretty convinced it’s the best,” added Helge Braun, the then-head of the Chancellor’s Office added,
Now almost three years have passed, all Covid measures have expired, and the most important function of the app has been turned off: the warnings after coming into contact with a person infected with Covid-19.
App can still be used as a digital vaccination card
“It doesn’t make sense (to keep the alerts) with the low incidence we have at the moment,” said German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD). He added that the disease is also no longer as severe due to the high population immunity.
On June 1st, the Corona warning app will then go into sleep mode. This means that it will no longer be updated and will also disappear from the Google and Apple app stores.
However, users can keep the app on their mobile phone if, for example, they saved their vaccination certificates there and want to continue using them. The contact diary function will also remain.
Lauterbach also urged users to keep the app saved in case of another Covid outbreak – or even pandemic.
“It may very well be that we have to use it again for Covid. But it could also be that we develop it further for other infectious diseases,” he said.
Just how effective was the app?
Since its release nearly three years ago, the app has been downloaded a total of 48 million times, according to Germany’s Health Ministry.
However, it is not possible to say how many people have actively used it. No exact statistics are possible because the information is only stored locally on the mobile phone for data protection reasons.
FDP health politician Andrew Ullmann called for the Federal Health Ministry to evaluate just how successful the app actually was in preventing the spread of infection.
“In terms of society as a whole, we still have to evaluate to what extent this app has actually helped,” he told the Tagesschau.
App was more expensive than planned
The app cost the government €220 million – significantly more than originally planned.
According to studies and estimates by the Corona warning app team, there were at least 25 million active users last year.
In spring 2022, when there were high numbers of infections, the scientists assumed that about 17 percent of all positive Corona test results in Germany were shared via the Corona warning app.