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Though very few Canadians have decided to download the Public Health Agency's coronavirus-tracing app, Covid-19 Alert, the agency insisted that it was "never going to be 100 percent perfect," according to Blacklock's Reporter.
“I do think we need to give this a bit of time,” Theresa Tam, chief public health officer, said. “As societies open, as schools and colleges and other places restart, now is the time to give it a go.”
It was reported that less than two million Canadians have volunteered to use the app in Ontario. Québec decided to pass on the app in late August, and Manitoba, on August 31, announced that it may launch its own app.
“Other provinces have to look at when they will come on board,” Dr. Tam noted to reporters. “Then we’ll get a better appreciation of how useful it is.”
Cabinet initially launched the program on June 18, ensuring users that it would protect their privacy. Though Canadians were strongly encouraged to download the app, the price of the program was not disclosed.
“It was never going to be 100 percent perfect," Dr. Tam said, "but please, every little bit helps and I don’t think we should dismiss it.”
A reporter asked if the app had "been a flop," with Dr. Tam responding that "we're waiting to see the collaboration that can take place with other jurisdictions."
The Agency insisted that the app is only useful if a large number of Canadians are using it. “I’ve seen different modeling and other data, some that says you need sixty percent uptake,” said Tam. “But others have said you might need quite a bit less and it will still be effective.”
“The way I look at it, and that of other medical officers, is you don’t have to have uniform uptake in the population,” said Tam.
“Having the app downloaded in certain populations, maybe young adults who may frequent places like restaurants or other places where you don’t know everybody who is around you, get those kinds of populations in those settings downloading the app.”
Dr. Tam added that there are some trade-offs to the process, noting that "there's a balance between the way things are designed to be quite stringent on the privacy side. It does have some downsides. It is then up to individuals, like many of our public health measures."