Letter: Concerns Coronavirus Contact Tracing App could bring false sense of confidence

This reader shares a Letter sent to Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, in which explains his concerns about the prospect of a contact tracking App being launched on the Island

man showing another mobile phone

OnTheWight always welcomes a Letter to the Editor to share with our readers – unsurprisingly they don’t always reflect the views of this publication. If you have something you’d like to share, get in touch and of course, your considered comments are welcome below.

This from a reader in Cowes, name withheld, shares an open letter to Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely. Ed


I am writing to inform you that I am fundamentally opposed to the Isle of Wight being used as a test-bed for the pilot use of any contact tracing App. I do so as your constituent, and as a key worker (a registered Social Worker working in NHS Safeguarding).

I regard it as a dereliction of your duty and responsibility as an MP to do anything other than advocate a similar position. To do otherwise and lend your support is to condemn us.

Not guinea pigs
My friends, family and neighbours are NOT to be used as guinea-pigs. There are numerous factors which could make our local situation significantly worse – not least the acknowledged fact that healthcare services on Isle of Wight could very easily be swamped and exceed their capacity.

Critical care is often at its limit under normal circumstances, let alone in a pandemic, even with additional field-hospital capacity. 

Not in total lockdown
A further concern is that the Isle of Wight is not completely locked-down – there are still people travelling back and forth daily and this opens any tracing to becoming compromised. 

Older generation and smart phones
In addition there are a significant proportion of Island residents who are not only older, but also less familiar with the technology demands. Many of those do not have a smart-phone, let alone know how to use a Bluetooth App – I can speak from experience and authority on this because of my professional experiences.

Experts in epidemiology (and even Michael Gove MP) have stated that to be effective, a minimum of 60% of the population would need to be using the App. How confident are you that this will happen? If so, on what basis? 

Little confidence in validity of findings
Moreover, given last week’s revelations about the way in which testing data has, in my view, been carefully curated to mislead, I have little confidence in the validity of any findings from such an App.

In short, I do not trust our political leaders at this time. I also have very grave concerns about how any data gathered will be used in future. It is a fundamental right that my privacy is upheld and I see no reason why this should be compromised by a poorly-thought-through approach.

Setting a false sense of confidence?
I would appreciate you contacting me about this as a matter of urgency, to clarify your position and to answer each of the points I have made above. 

I’m sure I have no need to remind you Bob, but I will nonetheless: The biggest risk this App could bring is a false sense of confidence, and ultimately people will die as a consequence.

Image: Luis Villasmil Image: Visit Isle of Wight under CC BY 2.0

Monday, 4th May, 2020 11:42am

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Filed under: Island-wide, Letter to the Editor

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2 Comments on "Letter: Concerns Coronavirus Contact Tracing App could bring false sense of confidence"

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concernediw
Very well said. I endorse everything in your letter. Suddenly, the island’s unique location makes it ideal as a test bed for this app. What a shame it wasn’t seen as an ideal location at the start of the outbreak to test total shutdown from the mainland, apart from freight and medical purposes. Is Mr Seely after a job in the cabinet one has to wonder? The… Read more »
kerry

Your gut tells you it is ‘iffy’ by the shear way it has be bounced on everyone, pretty much overnight, without ant consultation.