Tracking down coronavirus contacts is the single effective strategy that we have against the pandemic – and the only realistic way to forward.
Consider this. Realistically, the vaccine may be years away (or worse: think about HIV). No state will be able to afford a lockdown that long, and its effects on the economy and people will be devastating. Moreover, the lockdown simply extends the freefall before the crash: the coronavirus will not dissipate by itself.
ALL economies will have to re-open at their own risk.
By now, we have enough data to realize that COVID19 will not “dissolve.” We can only affect its basic reproduction rate (i.e. how many others an infection person will infect on average). Suppressing the basic reproduction rate of the virus is the ONLY WAY to stop it. Hence, we can drastically improve our chances of a successful opening if we deploy a mandatory tracking system. With the technology already available and with quite unexpected and promising cooperation between the two high-tech giants Apple and Google, we could have the app developed and deployed within weeks if not days.
That is, within weeks, we can get back as close to normal as possible, without stressing out continuously, whether we are going to bump into an infected person or not.
But the pushback against the tracking is remarkable. It reminds me of a situation when the entire asylum community, from patients to head physician, refuse to accept medical treatment.
Why is there so much ado about it? If it is built properly, and the centralized database properly secured, there will be no privacy breach. By all means, no new breach: if you have a mobile phone, use the internet, ATMs, etc. –
RELAX: YOUR LOCATION HAS NOT BEEN A SECRET for the last 30 years or so!
And if the app is designed correctly, it will “know” your IMEI, not personal ID directly.
Denying the new technology is at least as irresponsible as denying the impact of ‘civilization’ on climate change, and it is likely initiated by the conspiracy theorists now burning 5G towers (as well as some 3G and 4G along the way).
To help the app earn public support, we should make it mandatory for health insurance (no “opt-out” is feasible, it makes the app useless). Even if we offer “50% off the new mobile phone of your choice,” this strategy will be ten times more effective and cheaper than supporting the unemployed, at the same time expanding hospitals and morgues to accommodate the freedom-loving Luddites.
This app will save thousands of lives. Don’t you realize that?
Update: While some very “private” activists continue their fight, the app – COVID Alert – is now available in Canada for both iPhone and Android. Although it is not fully functional in Quebec yet (Quebec has the most strict privacy laws in Canada, that may be the reason), it is a very good sign – a minor victory of wisdom over “liberty.”