The controversial Track and Trace mobile phone app - trialled on the Isle of Wight before being dropped - preceded a sharp drop in coronavirus cases and R Rate on the Island, according to a team of experts in diseases, maths and the economy.

The results show a rapid decline in the total number of cases-per-head and the Covid-19 reproduction number (R) level in hospital and community cases, following the introduction of the Track and Trace programme on May 5.

The Isle of Wight results also show a decreased R value, compared to other areas of the UK.

An independent analysis has been published by a group of experts from Oxford University - though it has yet to be subjected to peer review.

Scroll down for a link to an interactive tool to explore the research...Read more: Coronavirus tracking phone app to be trialled on the Isle of Wight

In fact, the research shows the Island went from one of the worst R rates (147th out of 150 upper tier local authorities) just before the Track and Trace programme started, to one of the best (10th out of 150).

The research team modelled its reports on the number of cases and R rate, based on Pillar 1 reporting (around half the Island's total number of coronavirus cases, and initially the only data released by the government).

The report says:

  • In April, the Isle of Wight was amongst the worst affected regions.
  • In May, after Test and Trace began, cases and R 'rapidly declined' in hospitals.
  • By mid-June, the epidemic was 'under control' 
  • Around 55,000 people downloaded the app

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The later-released Pillar 2 community testing data appeared to confirm the Isle of Wight results, say the report's authors, with R value estimates on the Isle of Wight some 20 to 25 per cent lower than the national level during May and June.

Isle of Wight County Press:

The app trial was ended due to an incompatibility issue with Google and Apple. Parts of it will be used in the development of a new alternative, the government has said.

Read more: Test and trace: Isle of Wight coronavirus app scrapped over Apple issues

Professor Christophe Fraser, lead author and Group Leader in Pathogen Dynamics at Oxford University said: "Our analysis estimates rapidly declining incidence and R rates on the Island after test and trace is introduced. The results are equally encouraging when we compare the Island’s epidemic growth rate to 149 other regions in the UK. The Island shifts from amongst the worst R levels in mid-April to regain epidemic control around within a month of the test and trace programme starting.”

Dr Michelle Kendall, first author on the report from Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Medicine explains, “The epidemic on the Isle of Wight rapidly declined following the introduction of the test, trace and isolate programme.

"It’s hard to disentangle the exact causes of the Island’s success without a more detailed breakdown of data, but we’re hopeful that as more test and trace data becomes available we’ll be able to determine which individual interventions had the greatest impact.

"The research method we have developed could also be adapted to identify hotspot areas where a surge in cases requires further investigation. ”

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Comparisons show the epidemic on the Isle of Wight improved significantly faster than would have been expected without Track and Trace, says the report.

Click HERE to see the results.

Professor Christophe Fraser said: “We see a consistent picture of declining Covid-19 infections and reproduction rate on the Isle of Wight following the introduction of the test and trace programme. With more data, including detailed testing and app contact tracing pilot results, we could provide a clearer assessment of the impact of individual infection control measures, deepen our assessment of geographic differences, and provide further evidence to inform regional or localised outbreak responses.”