Scrapped COVIDSafe app only identified two positive cases

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Health minister Mark Butler has announced that the federal government has scrapped the "wasteful and ineffective" COVIDSafe app.

The app was launched in April 2020 but Mr Butler said only two positive COVID-19 cases were identified through the app that were not found by manual contact tracers.

He said the app only identified 17 close contacts that had not already been identified through manual contact tracing.

There was a total of 7.9 million registrations of the COVIDSafe app between April 2020 and May 2022 but fewer than 800 users consented to their data being added to the National COVIDSafe Data Store for contact tracing. 

According to Mr Butler, the former government spent more than $21 million of taxpayer money on this failed app, including $10 million on its development. A further $7 million was spent on advertising and marketing, $2.1 million on upkeep and more than $2 million on staff.

The last upload of data from users to the National COVIDSafe Data Store occurred in May 2021, and there has been no access to the data store by state and territory authorities since January 2022.

The decision to cease the app means that the Department of Health and Aged Care will not be permitted to collect any data from the app, and it will be removed from the platforms where it could be downloaded. Mr Butler said no COVIDSafe app data will be retained.