Open surveillance: Tracking the SARS-Cov2 virus

The sharing of genetic data pertaining to the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been celebrated as a landmark achievement for the principles underpinning Open Science. However, a critical evaluation reveals that two divergent frameworks of data governance have been operatively dominant during this period.One being partially open, supported by the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data (GISAID) and the other being fully open, supported by members of the International Nucleotide Sequence Database Collaboration. These frameworks not only propagate different normative interpretations of sound data management, but further serve as templates for the large-scale data infrastructures that will shape the approach to future pandemic management and other collaborative and coordinated scientific endeavors.

We delve into the intersection of open science practices and global health inequalities, particularly as they relate to the open dissemination of SARS-CoV-2 genetic data.

We ask: What pathways has this data navigated and which specific communities have been most affected by its dissemination? What are the implications of openly accessible SARS-CoV-2 genetic data for issues such as access, inequity, and sovereignty in the global health landscape? How do stewards of such data interpret the principles of responsible data management, and what practices are enacted to fulfill these principles?

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