Despite its heightened importance in COVID-19 times, Aarogya Setu app has found itself in the news for privacy concerns.
Looking to address the issue, the government on May 26 announced it has made the Android version of Aarogya Setu open source.
The source code for the app is currently available on GitHub. In a press conference, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said: "All subsequent updates will be made through this repository." Kant also announced a bug bounty programme for Aarogya Setu. Developers will now be able to inspect the app.
The source code for the back-end infrastructure will be made open source sometime next week, which will allow cybersecurity researchers to audit the code and evaluate the privacy and security of the app. Additionally, the iOS and KaiOS versions will also be made open-source soon. The move makes sense considering 98-percent of Aarogya Setu users have downloaded the Android version of the app.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Since its launch on April 2, Aarogya Setu has already garnered 115 million users, making it the fastest-growing coronavirus contact tracing app in the world. It was also the fastest app to hit 50 million downloads, hitting the milestone in just 13 days.
So far, over 8 lakh people have Aarogya Setu's self-assessment test. Kant also added that the app had alerted over 1,40,000 users of the potential risk of infection. He said, "The app identified more than 3,000 hotspots in 3-17 days ahead of time." According to the government, a total of 60,490 patients have recovered from COVID-19 in the country.here