The inside story of the UK’s NHSx contact tracing app


The UK government spent two months touting its contact tracing app as the prospective basis for returning to something close to normality. As the June 1 target date approached, however, the government increasingly downplayed its importance. In the meantime, Apple and Google’s API were adopted by several others countries that had intended, like the UK, to build their own, and a trial on the Isle of Wight failed to produce the download numbers or success rate the commissioning agency, NHSx, had hoped. The app was derailed in part by the conflict between the needs of epidemiology and the desires of some inside NHSx to collect a central database that could be put to a wider range of uses. Among the contractors involved were Pivotal (£2 million), a subsidiary of VMWare.
Writer: Kathleen Hall
Publication: Bureau of Investigative Journalism