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Boris Johnson Has Summoned Major Tech Companies To Downing Street To Help In The Fight Against The Coronavirus

Social media companies will be asked at a meeting on Wednesday evening to commit "data, assets and expertise" to the UK government's battle against the outbreak.

Denis Charlet / Getty Images

Boris Johnson has summoned the senior executives of major tech companies to a private meeting in Downing Street on Wednesday night to "request you and your company's assistance in our country's response" to the coronavirus.

Representatives from all the major social media companies will attend the "Tech CEO Round Table", BuzzFeed News understands. They will be asked to commit "data, assets and expertise" to the UK's fight against the outbreak.

The meeting, which will take place at 7pm on Wednesday will be chaired by the prime minister's chief adviser, Dominic Cummings.

A source said Downing Street would ask tech companies to ensure the public receives the best coronavirus advice at the top of searches, and to help combat disinformation.

A draft agenda of the meeting seen by BuzzFeed News said senior ministers, scientific and medical experts and Number 10 advisers will brief the tech companies about the government's plan to deal with the virus and its "projections" for the next stages of the outbreak.

The prime minister's team will seek to "align on vision and objectives" and seek a "pledge of support" from the tech companies present.

The objectives of the meeting are to produce an action plan with tech companies that will "help inform the public and decision makers", "model the spread of the disease and impact of interventions", "track the spread and allow members of the public to avoid exposure", "help allocate staff, resources and devices across the medical system", and "help communities help themselves".

Tech firms will be asked for their help with "back end data", "modelling and analytics", "dashboards / visualisations" and "reaching vulnerable and isolated groups".

The meeting will follow the Budget speech in the Commons, in which chancellor Rishi Sunak will unveil a raft of measures aimed at combating the outbreak.

Alex Wickham is a senior reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alex Wickham at alex.wickham@buzzfeed.com.

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