Data on the NHS Covid-19 app is to be published weekly alongside NHS Test and Trace data from next week.

The Department of Health and Social Care confirmed data would be published from 18 February.

It followed news that more than 1.7 million app users across England and Wales have been advised to isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app following a close contact with someone tested positive.

The app has now been downloaded 21.63 million times. It works by sending alerts to close contacts of those who have tested positive for Covid-19 advising them to isolate, this can be as quickly as 15 minutes after a user enters a positive result into the app the DHSC claims.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “The NHS Covid-19 app is an important tool in our pandemic response. We know it has instructed hundreds of thousands of at-risk people to self-isolate since it launched in September – including me – and this analysis shows it has been hugely effective at breaking chains of transmission, preventing an estimated 600,000 cases.

“Isolating and knowing when you have been at risk of catching coronavirus is essential to stopping the spread of this virus, and the app is the quickest way to notify you if you are at risk.

“I want to thank all those who have played their part by downloading and using the app, and urge those who haven’t to take the simple step to protect your communities and loved ones and download it”

As well as contact tracing and booking a test the app allows users to check their symptoms via its symptom checker.

Since it was launched in September 2020 the app has had a series of updates including an update to the risk scoring algorithm to better estimate distance based on Bluetooth signal strength, increasing its accuracy and making this the first contact tracing app worldwide to harness this technology.

The app is also interoperable meaning it is compatible with other contact tracing apps across the UK, protecting users who travel to Scotland, Jersey, Northern Ireland or Gibraltar.

For a more in-depth look at the contact-tracing app, and what went wrong, take a look at our timeline of events here.

The app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. More information can be found on the NHS Covid-19 app website.

We are the hosts of Digital Health Rewired 2021, the must-attend virtual festival celebrating the best of digital health and care, taking place across 15-19 March 2021. Get a flavour of Rewired 2021 from the video below. You can book your place here