NHSX contract tracing app scrapes a ‘pass’ in official review

Britain’s contact tracing app has only just scraped a ‘pass’ in a review designed to test whether it could be used by the public, even as privately health chiefs appear to be U-turning on the project.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the contact tracing app being developed by companies including Pivotal and Zuhlke had been reviewed by independent firm ORCHA and had passed, although there were a number of risks highlighted. 

ORCHA began working with the NHS in 2018 to populate its App Library with apps that could be used safely, reviewing them through analysing things such as their privacy and security features, as well as how technically stable they were. The contact tracing app was thought to have previously failed internal NHS tests. 

A spokesman for the body said: “Our testing of the app to date has included a 262 point assessment, looking at compliance with standards, regulations and best practice in data privacy, user experience and clinical assurance. 

“The app achieved a score of 70pc which is above our pass threshold… Regulations to go through data security and data penetration testing takes significant time and so has not been completed yet.”  A pass mark required a score of 65pc. 

The Department of Health did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

News of the progress comes just hours after it appeared that health chiefs were considering switching to an app developed by Apple and Google.

The UK has, up until now, been working on its own centralised app that takes data from people’s phones through Bluetooth tracking technology and saves it on a central system. 

The Apple Google Initiative, on the other hand, ensures such data is not stored on government databases. 

The Government has previously said that having access to this data will allow it to understand better how the virus is spreading. The app is being trialled on the Isle of Wight this week. 

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