Providing collective solutions to global pandemics requires the coordination of information that is accurate and accountable. In recent years there has been a global push for reliable pandemic preparedness indicators. This push has come from U.S. foreign policy, the World Health Organization (WHO), NGOs, and private foundations. These actors want control over how data for preparedness indicators is collected, analysed, and promoted. Governments want to influence how they are assessed, using poor performance to attract attention and good performance to deflect blame. In this article we discuss how the push for pandemic preparedness indicators comes from the dual aims of repelling national risk, the spread of disease, while reducing global harm through stronger transnational governance arrangements. We delve into the development of indicators from the WHO and the privately-run Global Health Security Index, and examine how their claims to authority measure-up against standards of transparency, veracity, and accountability. We stress the importance of understanding how these indicators are composed. This is vital given the current drive to include social and governance metrics in revised efforts at data collection, as well as efforts to include pandemic preparedness indicators in how intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, donors, and funders devise health and development policies.
Photo by Anna Shvets