This expert review offers an analysis of the global governance of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic is not only a health crisis but also a crisis of global governance. For example, the nation states in dealing with the crises of the pandemic have turned inwards, toward native and national solutions, and therefore away from the much-needed global cooperation to respond to the pandemic. This is an important concern for systems medicine and integrative biology in both normative and instrumental sense. Moreover, if we are to "pandemic-proof" the planet and the life science innovation ecosystem, new ways of understanding global governance are called for. This article examines the ways in which national governments have reacted to the crises triggered and embodied by the COVID-19 pandemic, surfaces the different approaches and conflicts between scientific experts and policy makers, and reveals the failure of science and politics. I analyze the uneven and disjointed way Western democratic governments have responded to the crisis and the way unchecked normative values and ideas have influenced the pandemic policy and prevented effective measures to contain the pandemic. Finally, the complex relationships between politics, knowledge, science, and governments are explored and clarified, and the way the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the long-standing tensions between technocracy and democracy. In conclusion, it is time to think critically and reflexively for all knowledge actors in systems science and innovate both planetary health and its global governance.