ROME (Reuters) – Italy could revitalise the smartphone app it launched last year to trace COVID-19 infections and use it for so-called vaccine passports, Innovation Minister Vittorio Colao said on Tuesday.
The app, called Immuni (immune) and developed by a Milan tech start-up Bending Spoons, sends notifications to people who come into contact with a person who tests positive for coronavirus.
But it had a lukewarm reception, with only 10.4 million people out of a 60 million-strong population downloading it so far.
“The Immuni app did not have a great success with the public but it could in the future, and could become useful for vaccination passports,” Colao told a parliamentary committee.
As the rollout of vaccines against COVID-19 gather pace, countries are exploring how documents, mostly digital, could help reopen borders by identifying those who are protected against the virus.
Immuni data can currently be exchanged with similar apps being used in other European countries such as Spain, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Austria and Poland, a website by the health ministry showed.
Colao said Rome was keeping Immuni updated so that it could be used again in the future. He did not elaborate further.
So far, Immuni has registered over 16,000 positive cases amongst its users and sent almost 96,000 notifications, mainly in the northern regions of Emilia-Romagna and Lombardy, the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, ministry data showed.
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina, writing by Giulia Segreti; Editing by Crispian Balmer)