G20 Digital Economy Ministers stress promising role of digital technologies in enhancing COVID-19 response

The G20 Ministers responsible for the digital economy emphasise the promising role of digital technologies and relevant digital policies to strengthen and accelerate our collective response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to enhance our ability to prevent and mitigate future crises.

was concluded today by issuing which reads as follows: ''We will work together to deliver on the commitment to leverage digital technologies made at the G20 Leaders’ Extraordinary Summit on March 26, according to the final communique issued at the end of the meeting of the G20 Digital Economy Ministers in Riyadh on Thursday.

Acknowledging the uncertainty associated with COVID-19 and the power of data and Artificial Intelligence, AI, to accelerate pattern recognition and enable evidence-based policy-making, the ministers encourage collaboration to collect, pool, process, and share reliable and accurate non-personal information that can contribute to the monitoring, understanding, and prevention of the further spread of COVID-19 as well as other infectious diseases. COVID-19-related data should be collected and processed in an ethical, transparent, safe, interoperable, and secure manner that protects the privacy and data security of individuals, in line with the International Health Regulations, IHR, 2005, and national laws and regulations.

''We recognise the potential of digital technologies, including AI, to contribute to the fight against and prevention of pandemics by accelerating development of potential diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines, playing a critical role in diagnosis, supporting health professionals, monitoring of patients’ vital signs remotely or in the hospital, facilitating remote care through virtual care and telemedicine, optimizing hospital logistics and operations, and providing information to the public via chatbots,'' the communique stressed.

'' We will encourage and collaborate with the research community, private sector, and business entities to promote the use of digital technologies and solutions for the development and manufacturing of critical medical equipment and supplies (including disinfectants, Personal Protective Equipment, and ventilators) to fight COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.'' To achieve the urgent progress in these areas that the current crisis demands, we encourage the sharing among G20 countries of digital economy policy interventions, practices, lessons learned, and solutions in response to COVID-19. This will help us identify critical common challenges, proven policy interventions and implementation practices to help G20 countries and beyond, in particular developing countries and regions, to mitigate the immediate challenges of COVID-19 and those that may emerge in the future.

''This present crisis carries with it an opportunity for governments to encourage the use of our most advanced technologies in order to prevent, mitigate, treat, and defeat future pandemics, and to facilitate the development of digital innovations that will enable a full economic recovery. The Digital Economy Task Force will encourage the dissemination of current and emerging digital tools for fighting this pandemic. Taking stock of and building on this experience, Italy is open to support and continue dialogue on the application of advanced technologies to fight pandemics in the upcoming G20 Presidency,'' the communique concluded.

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