The Corona-Warn-App was developed in 2020 for contact tracing in the Covid pandemic. The arrangement at the time was for a one-year term with two renewal options. The second extension option will now in all likelihood be taken up – but after that the app is to be discontinued.
150 million euros for contact tracking
The app, developed and operated by Telekom and SAP, has so far cost the federal government around 150 million euros. By January, the cost was around 130 million euros, according to information from the federal government. It is administered by the Robert Koch Institute. The app’s usefulness lay primarily in the early phases of the pandemic, when vaccines and medications were not yet available or a high vaccination coverage rate had not yet been achieved, in its comprehensive contact tracking: Via the app, all users could see when they had had how many risk contacts. In this way, chains of infection could be quickly interrupted. Over time, more and more functions were added, such as the integration of a vaccination record in the app.
In the current final phase of the pandemic, however, the warning app has become noticeably less important: contacts are no longer consistently followed up, and infections with the more harmless omicron variant are no longer vigorously prevented in a population that has extensive basic immunity. The warning app is thus largely obsolete.
However, it is not yet to be discontinued completely, as it could well be used again, especially in the fall and winter: Health Minister Karl Lauterbach expects a new wave with high infection figures and does not rule out the reintroduction of stricter pandemic measures. The extension of the app has not yet been decided; however, everything indicates that the federal government would like to use the last extension option and thus continue the app until May 2023.
No permanent continued use
Proposals to use the app permanently and expand it, for example, into a general alert app or a health tool with an integrated patient record, on the other hand, have now been clearly rejected by the Ministry of Health: The app is to be discontinued after the pandemic and after the contractually agreed maximum period has been exhausted.