UK Government to Use Google-Apple Model for Tracing App in U-Turn

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UK Government to Use Google-Apple Model for Tracing App in U-Turn
UK Government to Use Google-Apple Model for Tracing App in U-Turn

The Government is set to announce it has abandoned its current efforts developing a contact-tracing app and is pivoting towards a method developed by Apple and Google.

It marks another major U-turn by the government in recent days, following major policy changes on free school meals, surplus charges for overseas NHS workers and MPs voting in the House of Commons.

The government had been testing its own app on the Isle of Wight from May 5 in anticipation for UK-wide launch at a later date.

No date was being set for the roll-out, however, despite health secretary Matt Hancock having previously said the key app would be available in mid-May.

NHS Test and Trace chief Baroness Dido Harding and NHS boss Matthew Gould said there had been “specific technical challenges” in setting up the app.

While the Mr Hancock said other countries across the world had also “faced challenges” in developing apps.

In a statement on the U-turn, Baroness Harding and Mr Gould said: “Our response to this virus has and will continue to be as part of an international effort.

“That is why as part of a collaborative approach we have agreed to share our own innovative work on estimating distance between app users with Google and Apple, work that we hope will benefit others, while using their solution to address some of the specific technical challenges identified through our rigorous testing.”

Matt Hancock said the government remained determined to develop an app which meets the “technical, security and user needs of the public”.

He claimed that countries across the world had “faced challenges” in developing apps.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said the app U-turn meant “precious time and money” had been wasted.

He said: “This is unsurprising and yet another example of where the Government’s response has been slow and badly managed. It’s meant precious time and money wasted.

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