Nationwide rollout reveals efficacy of epidemic control through digital contact tracing
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionNature Communications. 2021, 12 1-8. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26144-8
Fuelled by epidemiological studies of SARS-CoV-2, contact tracing by mobile phones has been put to use in many countries. Over a year into the pandemic, we lack conclusive evidence on its effectiveness. To address this gap, we used a unique real world contact data set, collected during the rollout of the first Norwegian contact tracing app in the Spring of 2020. Our dataset involves millions of contacts between 12.5% of the adult population, which enabled us to measure the real-world app performance. The technological tracing efficacy was measured at 80%, and we estimated that at least 11.0% of the discovered close contacts could not have been identified by manual contact tracing. Our results also indicated that digital contact tracing can flag individuals with excessive contacts, which can help contain superspreading related outbreaks. The overall effectiveness of digital tracing depends strongly on app uptake, but significant impact can be achieved for moderate uptake numbers. Used as a supplement to manual tracing and other measures, digital tracing can be instrumental in controlling the pandemic. Our findings can thus help informing public health policies in the coming months.