Digital proximity tracing app notifications lead to faster quarantine in non-household contacts: results from the Zurich SARS-CoV-2 Cohort Study [article]

Tala Ballouz, Dominik Menges, Helene E Aschmann, Anja Domenghino, Jan S Fehr, Milo A Puhan, Viktor von Wyl
<span title="2020-12-23">2020</span> <i title="Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory"> medRxiv </i> &nbsp; <span class="release-stage" >pre-print</span>
Digital proximity tracing (DPT) apps may warn exposed individuals faster than manual contact tracing (MCT), leading to earlier interruption of transmission chains through quarantine. However, it is yet unclear whether these apps lead to a reduction in transmissions under real-world conditions. This study aimed at evaluating whether the SwissCovid DPT app is effective in warning close contacts of SARS-CoV-2 infected cases and prompting them to quarantine earlier. Methods: A population-based
more &raquo; ... e of adult index cases and close contacts identified through MCT and enrolled in the Zurich SARS-CoV-2 Cohort study were surveyed regarding use of the SwissCovid app and SARS-CoV-2 exposure setting. We analyzed ooutcomes related to app effectiveness and adherence (i.e., receipt and uploading of notification codes by index cases; receipt of app warnings and steps taken by close contacts). Furthermore, we performed adjusted time-to-event analyses stratified by exposure setting to estimate the effect of the app on time between relevant exposure and entering quarantine among close contacts. Findings: We included 393 index cases and 261 close contacts in the analysis. Among index cases using SwissCovid, 88% reported receiving and uploading a notification code in the app to trigger a warning among proximity contacts. Among close contacts using the app, 38% reported receiving an app warning due to the risk exposure. We found that non-household contacts who were notified by the app started quarantine at a median of 2 days after exposure, while those not notified started quarantine at a median of 3 days. In stratified multivariable analyses, app notified contacts had a greater probability of going into quarantine earlier than those without app notification (HR 1.53, 95% CI 1.15-2.03). Interpretation: Our study showed that non-household contacts notified by the app started quarantine one day earlier than those not notified by the app. These findings constitute the first evidence that DPT may reach exposed contacts faster than MCT, leading to earlier quarantine and potential interruption of SARS-CoV-2 transmission chains.
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