People with diabetes using continuous glucose monitoring devices are being advised to uninstall the government’s COVIDSafe app if they have any concerns about it interfering with their CGM apps.
Diabetes Australia says it has received reports from a number of people with diabetes who have experienced connection problems with their CGM apps after following government advice to downloading and install the COVID-19 tracing app to their smartphone.
“We have advised the Department of Health that there may be an issue. If you have downloaded the COVIDSafe app and use a smartphone app with your CGM, you may wish to closely monitor to see if you have any connectivity issues,” Diabetes Australia advised on 29 April.
“If you are worried, you should temporarily uninstall the COVIDSafe app from your phone.”
It has been suggested the CGM connection problems may be related to Bluetooth connectivity disruption experienced by some smartphones when the COVIDsafe app is running at the same time as the CGM app.
Several people reported their own experiences in response to the Diabetes Australia post on Facebook, describing issues such as signal loss and missed or unreliable blood glucose readings.
“Within hours, I had signal loss that lasted for a good three hours,” said one person using the Dexcom app on an iPhone 11 Pro.
“It came back on again only to continue to drop out so often that I deleted the app and all went back to normal. Definitely an issue. Just to make sure I downloaded it again and the signal loss was back.
At a media briefing the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd advised people with diabetes to prioritise the use of their CGM app ahead of the COVIDSafe app if they have any concerns.
“I think the really most important issue here for people with diabetes who are relying on the app to assist them to maintain safe levels of blood sugar and to assist them with the use of their medications … to make sure that they’re going to stay safe and well, that is the number one priority for those people with diabetes,” he said.
“So while we sort out between the two different apps, whether there is any clash, most important that people are managing their diabetes and doing so safely.”
Caroline Wells, CEO of Diabetes Tasmania said the problem appeared to be a sporadic one rather than widespread and she urged people not to panic.
“Our advice to people is if they have connectivity issues and are worried to temporarily uninstall the COVIDSafe App … CGM issues aside, it’s really important people are downloading the app,” she told the Mercury.
Problems with the Bluetooth connectivity of the COVIDSafe app were acknowledged by a public servant at a Senate inquiry into COVID-19 on 6 May.
Randall Brugeaud CEO of the Digital Transformation Agency said Bluetooth connectivity may be lost for iPhones if the app is not running in the foreground.
“It progressively deteriorates and the quality of the connection is not as good as you get to a point where the phone is locked and the app is running in the background,” he said.
Mr Brugeaud said he believed the problems would be addressed when Apple brings out an update in the near future.