Apart from the rising number of cases and fatalities, in parts of the Global South the immense impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is seen in how vulnerable population cohorts have been affected, highlighting the need to support effective government responses and pilot new approaches to response and recovery. In particular, COVID-19 has affected women, men, girls, boys and gender diverse groups differently and unequally, which emphasizes the need for timely and precise data on different individuals/communities for effective, equitable policies and interventions.


The Global South AI4COVID Program supports multidisciplinary research focused on evidence-based artificial intelligence (AI) and data science approaches to aid COVID-19 response and recovery in low- and middle-income countries. Funded by Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), with support from Pulse Lab Jakarta of the United Nations Global Pulse network, Gender at Work and Ladysmith, the program aims to support research that is linked to government responses and policy making in the following areas:

Forecasting transmissions and reducing spread through policy and public health interventions

Optimising public health system responses for patient diagnosis, care, and management

Mobilising AI and data science to understand and support gender inclusive COVID-19 action

Building trust and combatting
mis- and dis-information around COVID-19

Strengthening data systems and information sharing about COVID-19

Supporting transparent and responsible AI, data, and digital rights governance around COVID-19 and pandemic responses


The research undertaken by the inaugural cohort of research grantees falls within two overarching themes:

AI for COVID-19 Policy and Decision Making
Informing policies, both organisationally and nationally, that mitigate potential harms, with special attention to women and girls and other vulnerable groups, as well as support and build accountability and trust in AI and data science responses to epidemics; and
Strengthening the capacity of health systems in low- and middle-income developing countries to respond to epidemics using responsible and inclusive AI and data science techniques.
User-Centric Data Innovation and AI for COVID-19
Deepening understanding of how to develop and scale responsible and evidence-based AI and data science approaches that support COVID-19 response and recovery in developing countries; and
Ensuring that those responses are gender responsive and culturally appropriate, community specific, and based on local needs and contexts.