While we wait for a vaccine for COVID-19, the most common ways to prevent spread of the virus include frequent hand washing, physical distancing, and travel restrictions. Given the pressure to restart economies, governments have been trying to find ways to lift lockdown restrictions without putting public safety at risk, including people with diabetes. Many countries have also introduced contact-tracing smartphone applications (apps) that work by sending an alert if someone has been exposed to the virus so that they can self-isolate. To prevent illegal tracking of people, these apps use Bluetooth technology, rather than Global Positioning Systems (GPS) data.
In April, 2020, Diabetes Australia announced that a number of people with diabetes had reported experiencing connection problems with their continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) apps after downloading the COVID tracking app. The Australian government told users to stop using the tracking app if interference with medical devices occurs. As similar contact-tracing apps are already being used or will soon launch in other countries, people with diabetes worldwide should be aware of possible interference with their CGM apps. To solve some of the technical challenges faced by governments in developing Bluetooth-based apps, Google and Apple have partnered to develop a special contact-tracing technology available to public health agencies. This could help to establish a global contact-tracing system, shared among countries. The concern of contact tracing apps interfering with medical devices should be addressed quickly to prevent fear and confusion and undermining the use of this (essential) technology.
Photo by Mike Baumeister at Unsplash