EU, WHO launch new tool for contact tracing

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attends a daily press briefing on COVID-19 at the WHO headquaters on March 6, 2020 in Geneva. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)

Brussels, June 29 (IANS) The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have developed a tool to evaluate the public health effectiveness of contact tracing solutions, according to a statement.

The tool, described as an indicator framework, will provide countries with a standardised approach for evaluating their use of digital proximity tracing solutions, Xinhua news agency quoted the ECDC statement issued on Monday as saying.

It will also assess the extent to which these solutions have aided national contact tracing strategies for Covid-19, the statement noted.

Countries have employed innovative technologies throughout the pandemic to support the implementation of public health and social measures.

Digital proximity tracing, by using smartphones or other devices to capture anonymised interactions between individuals and which would then issue alerts, emerged as a new means of support for contact tracing programs.

“This new indicator framework offers countries a standardized approach to gather the evidence and assess the contribution that digital proximity tracing technology has made to large-scale contact tracing efforts for Covid-19,” said Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat, director of the Division of Country Health Policies and Systems at WHO/Europe.

“We anticipate that it will become an invaluable tool,” she added.

Vicky Lefevre, head of the ECDC Public Health Functions Unit, said that digital proximity tracing technology is a new tool for a new challenge.

It is vital to evaluate its public health effectiveness in order to understand how best to use this technology right now as well as for future pandemics, Lefevre concluded.

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