One of the most interesting sources of data for the progress of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the ZOE app — downloaded by over 4.3 million people, who input symptoms and test results every day.
Its founder is Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist from KCL, and the app is now funded by the Government and Number Ten receives daily data from it. He received an OBE for services to fighting the pandemic earlier this year.
The ZOE app made headlines recently for demonstrating quite conclusively that the number of daily infections was already levelling off and even coming down in some areas of England at the end of October, prior to the second national lockdown. It painted a very different picture from the apocalyptic scenarios described in the Prime Minister’s briefing.
Professor Spector was refreshingly outspoken when I interviewed him yesterday. He said
- Had the Government followed data from the ZOE app they would not have gone into a second lockdown, which he believes was unnecessary
- The Government is tilted too much in the direction of caution and has lost a balanced sense of proportion
- He is worried that they will use the new vaccine news as a “carrot” to keep us locked down for the next three months, when he believes it will likely take most of the year to get enough people vaccinated
- He understands people’s concerns about such a new vaccine, and ZOE will be tracking any side effects from vaccinated people via its app