A pandemic of metrics

Vincanne Adams, Clare Chandler, Ann H. Kelly*, Julie Livingston

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic prompted critical attention to the performative power of metrics. We suggest that the existential capacities of metrics as a means of pandemic living warrant further consideration. We describe how the COVID-19 pandemic that came into existence as a public health and political event could only have occurred because of the anticipatory metrical practices that were used to transform SARS-COV-2 into a matter of global health concern. By exploring the affective potencies of COVID-19 metrics we show their abilities to engage the public in ways that cannot be contained; in detailing the narrative arcs created through metrics we show their opportunities, misdirections, and erasures. A pandemic way of life persists: a pandemic of metrics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-163
Number of pages15
JournalMedical Anthropology Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


  • affective publics
  • Covid-19
  • global health
  • metrics
  • pandemics


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