Following a minor inquiry by the AfD parliamentary group, the German government has disclosed the total costs incurred to date for operating the Corona-Warn-App: Costs of around 130 million euros have been incurred to date.
Background: AfD inquiry
The AfD parliamentary group has submitted a small inquiry to the German government in order to obtain more detailed information about the costs incurred to date in connection with the warning app. The party has attracted attention in the past with clear criticism of pandemic response measures, some of which led down abstruse paths: After the introduction of the app, the vice chairman of the AfD parliamentary group launched the so-called Spouter App, which was supposed to warn of smartphones active in the area with the Corona-Warn-App installed. The paid app, which is no longer available in the meantime, was not superior to any free LE Bluetooth detector in this regard; moreover, the question arose as to the usefulness of the information about the use of the warning app in one’s own environment, which was collected for a one-time fee of 1.19 euros. In the recent past, the AfD has been in the news because several unvaccinated members of parliament are no longer allowed to sit in the Bundestag’s plenary chamber due to pandemic regulations and now watch the debates from the spectators’ gallery.
Horrifying Operating Costs
Despite this background to the inquiry, the figures now released are of general interest. The German government said that in 2020 and 2021, a total of 116.3 million euros was paid to SAP and T-Systems, the companies responsible for developing and operating the app. In addition, there were 13.6 million euros for advertising, which was billed through the Federal Press Office, and 71,000 euros in advertising costs, which were borne by the Federal Ministry of Health. The average monthly operating costs in the past year were 3.94 million euros. In the current year, the figure is expected to be 2.66 million euros.
The app has now been downloaded more than 40 million times. Over the course of time, it has repeatedly been criticized for various reasons. In addition to fundamental criticism of pandemic control, concerns have been expressed about data protection and the effectiveness of contact tracking via the app. The latter practical aspect is also of particular importance in view of the rapidly rising infection figures in the omicron wave, as an adequate response to risk contacts is hardly possible when health offices are working to capacity. In addition, quarantine rules have since changed, making risk contacts less legally significant, at least for those who have been fully vaccinated. However, this does not affect the potentially improved personal risk assessment thanks to the app’s warning function.