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No more risk reports: Farewell to the Corona-Warn-App


Masks have only been seen occasionally for a long time – now the partial end of the warning app is pending: it has lost its most important function today. But it is not superfluous, says the Minister of Health.

By Dörthe Nath, ARD Capital Studio Berlin

June 16, 2020 – the first year of the pandemic. There was no vaccination yet, but there was now an app in which the federal government had great hopes at the time: “The Corona-Warn-App is an important helper when it comes to detecting and interrupting chains of infection,” said the then Chancellor Angela Merkel.

And the then Head of the Chancellery, Helge Braun, added, “This isn’t the first Corona app to be presented worldwide, but I’m pretty sure it’s the best.”

Almost three years have passed, the Corona measures have expired, and now the most important function of the app has been switched off: the warnings if you have had contact with a person infected with Corona.

June 2020: Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (2nd from right) speaks at the presentation of the official Corona warning app.

App can still be used as a digital vaccination card

Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach from the SPD explains why: “It doesn’t make sense given the low incidence that we currently have.” In addition, there is a high level of population immunity, so that the disease is no longer as severe.

On June 1st, the Corona-Warn-App will then go into sleep mode. This means that it will no longer be updated and will also disappear from the Google and Apple app stores. But you can keep them on your cell phone if, for example, you have saved your vaccination certificates there and want to continue using them. The contact diary is also retained.

And Lauterbach finds it important not to delete the app for other reasons. “It may very well be that we have to use them again for Covid. But it may also be that we develop them further for other infectious diseases.” This is currently being worked on intensively. Lauterbach’s appeal: Do not delete – the concept for success continues.

effect is disputed

His ministry quantifies its success as follows: it has been downloaded a total of 48 million times. However, it is not possible to say how many people actively used the app. At least no exact statistics are possible because the information is only stored locally on the cell phone for data protection reasons.

This is also why the FDP health politician Andrew Ullmann sees the success of the app rather critically. Good for the individual, but “we still have to evaluate society as a whole to what extent this app actually helped. I would say that it was not decisive for the war – this app in this pandemic.” He is therefore calling for the app to be evaluated by the Federal Ministry of Health.

App was more expensive than planned

What already exists are studies and estimates by the Corona-Warn-App team, which are based, among other things, on voluntary data donations. According to this, there were at least 25 million active users last year. In spring 2022, when the number of infections was high, the scientists assumed that around 17 percent of all positive corona test results in Germany were shared in the Corona-Warn-App.

It cost 220 million euros – significantly more than estimated.