A government minister has admitted that the NHS’ contact-tracing coronavirus app might not be ready before the winter.
Speaking to the parliamentary science and technology committee this afternoon, department of health minister Lord Bethell said the app was “no longer a priority”.
In answer to questions about the app, Bethell said: “We are seeking to get something going for the winter, but it isn’t the priority for us at the moment.
He added that it was the government’s intention to launch the app at some point, but admitted that he could not give a date.
The app, which was trialled on the Isle of Wight, had initially been scheduled for a nationwide launch at the end of May.
When asked about the roll out of the app, the government had said that it was expected to launch in a few weeks.
Bethell, the minister responsible for the app’s development, said that the trial had shown that people preferred to be contacted by other humans with health news, rather than by email or text.
He said: “There is a danger of it being too technological and relying too much on text and emails, and alienating or freaking out people – because you’re peddling quite alarming news through quite casual communication”.
He also pointed to difficulties that other countries around the world, including France, Norway and Singapore, had had with developing similar apps.
He said it was important for the government to make sure that they got the app right before rolling it out.
“If we didn’t quite get it right the first time round, we might poison the pool and close down a really important option for the future”, he added.