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Friday 11 June 2021

The impact of Zühlke’s NHS COVID-19 app

Zuhlke logoZühlke Engineering has been a key part of the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is responsible for developing the NHS COVID-19 app (see The app that Zühlke built), which has now been downloaded 24.9m times and used for 168.3m venue check-ins in England and Wales.

Research published in Nature last month, found that from its launch on 24 September 2020 to the end of December 2020, the app has had a positive effect on reducing the impact of the virus. The proportion of individuals notified by the app who subsequently showed symptoms and tested positive was 6%, a similar fraction to manual contact tracing, and several thousand lives have been saved through its use. This is something of which Wolfgang Emmerich, CEO of Zühlke UK, is understandably proud.

In March, Zühlke secured a £10.3m extension to its contract with the DHSC. The contract, which runs until the end of September 2021, will see the company continue to develop and operate the NHS COVID-19 mobile app, associated cloud services, public dashboard, self-isolation payment gateway, and the QR venue poster administration system.

Talking to TechMarketView, Wolfgang said Zühlke is still developing new features for the app, including further work on QR functionality and around variants of concern e.g. Delta variant. It has already made changes to the sensitivity of the app in response to the Alpha variant. He said the company has also been working with NHSX to support the vaccine certificate functionality on the NHS App. Due to the NHS COVID-19 app having a far greater number of downloads, many suggested the vaccine certificate should have been integrated with this application rather than the NHS App; however, Wolfgang explained that this was not possible as it would be in breach of the privacy rules that dictate how the Apple/Google contract tracing technology can be used.

The success of the NHS COVID-19 app has raised Zühlke’s profile in the UK and further afield—despite only being released in September it was the second most downloaded free app on the Apple app store in 2020. The work will lead to many new opportunities for Zühlke, but it’s unlikely it will ever develop another application that has demonstrably saved so many lives.

Posted by: Dale Peters at 08:01

Tags: nhs   research   app   healthcare   covid-19  

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