Big data and data analytics (BDA) have the potential to transform the public sector by providing a coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting the wellbeing of the people. Despite BDA’s promising potential, agencies need to be aware that achieving a significant impact through BDA is not always guaranteed. Although it is essential to understand how organisations can harness the power of BDA that is used in policy-decision making, treatment and controlling of the pandemic, there is no widely accepted model that links BDA capabilities for enhanced management of public health emergencies. The focus of the paper is to address this gap. The research focuses on analysing how the public sector utilised BDA and acquired critical capabilities to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. The contribution of this study is to provide a framework for successful BDA application and extend the existing data readiness theory.