COVID-19 Contact Tracing Apps Reach 9% Adoption In Most Populous Countries

COVID-19 Contact Tracing App Screenshot

Since March, COVID-19 contact tracing apps have been installed by about 9.3 percent of residents across the world’s 13 most populous countries with government-endorsed apps, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence estimates show.

Sensor Tower’s analysis focused on government-endorsed contact tracing apps in 13 countries with populations of 20 million or more: Australia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Peru, The Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam. When considering the adoption rate, Sensor Tower used current United Nations population estimates for residents of these countries aged 14 years and older. The population figures do not exclude residents who do not have access to smartphones.

Out of a combined population of nearly 1.9 billion residents, we estimate that close to 173 million people from the 13 countries have downloaded a government-endorsed contact tracing app.

COVID-19 Contact Tracing App Adoption Rates in 13 Countries

The Australian government’s COVIDSafe saw the highest adoption rate in the group, garnering about 4.5 million unique installs from the App Store and Google Play since its launch in late April. This figure represents 21.6 percent of the country’s population.

COVIDSafe wasn’t Australia’s first official app aimed at its citizens’ safety, although previous efforts have been less urgent. In the past, the Australian government launched its GPS-enabled Emergency+ app to help users place calls to the police and other emergency services. To date, that app has seen about 1.5 million installs, a third of the COVIDSafe’s downloads during the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Urgent Downloads

Among the cohort of apps we examined, the top five highest adoption rates came from Australia, Turkey, Germany, India, and Italy. The velocity of downloads was swift in some cases; Germany’s app, Corona-Warn-App, launched less than a month ago on June 15, yet it saw the third highest adoption rate with 10.4 million downloads from 14.4 percent of the country’s population. On June 16 alone, it saw about 3 million installs.

Out of the 13 countries we analyzed, India is currently the most severely affected by the pandemic. According to Johns Hopkins University, the number of new cases reported there are on the rise. Downloads for India’s nationwide contact-tracing app, Aarogya Setu, peaked in April with an estimated 80.8 million downloads from the App Store and Google Play. Around 127.6 million people, or 12.5 percent of the Indian populace, have installed the app—a number that may be supplemented by smaller local apps that have emerged in different states, such as Karnataka’s Corona Watch, and cities, such as Surat’s SMC COVID-19 Tracker. However, these local apps are generally much smaller than the country-wide Aarogya Setu, which on its own averaged about 495,000 downloads per day in June from first-time users.

Top Five Countries for COVID-19 Contact Tracing App Downloads

The Philippines’ RC143 has seen the lowest adoption rate among state-endorsed contact tracing apps, according to Sensor Tower estimates, with approximately 190,000 downloads from just 0.2 percent of the population there.

In terms of the highest number of downloads in domestic markets, India’s Aarogya Setu has seen the most installs with about 127.6 million downloads to date. Turkey and Germany follow with about 11 million and 10.4 million, respectively; Japan’s COCOA app has hit about 5.5 million downloads, and Indonesia’s PeduliLindungi has approximately 4.6 million.

Australia’s App Hits No. 1

The high adoption rate of Australia’s COVIDSafe is reflected by its rankings compared to other apps. On Australia’s App Store, it was ranked No. 1 among top free iPhone apps for 24 days after it launched on April 26, only dropping to No. 2 overall on May 20. To date, it remains the No. 1 app in the Health & Fitness category on the country’s App Store.

In the context of these rankings, this means that, for a solid month, COVIDSafe was beating out lockdown juggernauts such as Zoom and TikTok for new downloads.

Installs for Australia’s COVIDSafe peaked during the week of April 27, coinciding with government reports of dwindling daily cases, and the widespread use of the app might have potentially contributed to the curve remaining flat for the country in subsequent weeks. On average, the app continued to be downloaded about 67,000 times per week throughout the month of June.

No “Exact Percentage”

According to Dr. Amesh Adalja, Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, there is no magic number that will indicate whether or not a contact tracing app will be an effective tool for pandemic response.

“I don’t think that there’s an exact percentage to define success because any augmentation of contact tracing would be a benefit,” said Dr. Adalja, an expert on infectious diseases, in an email to Sensor Tower. The best measure for success, he said, would be whether or not an app has smoothed the way for a local area’s public health department.

“Contact tracing is going to be a cornerstone of how we move through this pandemic and anything that eases the burden of contact tracing will be very important,” said Dr. Adalja.

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