Political economists assume that global externalities, such as pandemics and climate change, require global or multi-national solutions. Yet, many aspects of these externalities can be addressed at the micro-level. As Elinor Ostrom pointed out, what scholars perceive as global externalities are in fact nested externalities that are organized in multiple, overlapping scales. By drawing on Ostrom's oeuvre, we explore the notions of nested externalities, polycentricity, and co-production in the context of pandemic governance. We highlight two crucial features of pandemics: first, preventative measures such as social distancing are co-production processes that cannot be provided by governments alone. Second, pandemics, much like climate change, pose nested externalities problems at different levels. Thus, pandemic externalities are better viewed as collective action problems arranged at multiple, nested, and/or overlapping scales. Finally, we propose an alternative institutional take that considers the nestedness of pandemic externalities and the diversity in institutional conditions across jurisdictions.