The virus that turned up late

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Covid-19 is no more than a nasty, but basically normal, viral respiratory infection, though you’ll be regarded rather as a mullah regards a blasphemer if you say so. Why is this?

After all: it is precisely because its symptoms seemed so similar to viral pneumonia that the initial outbreak in Wuhan was missed until the numbers built, and it is now clear that we have been missing Covid-19 cases diagnosed as pneumonia in Europe at least as far back as December, probably earlier. In the vernacular: it looks as though it was bubbling away for ages before we noticed.

But if this is really the killer that has forced the biggest suspension of civil liberties since Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate, what is so unusual about it? Where are the Emperor’s clothes?

Given that my daughter is having a tap-dancing lesson on Zoom in the neighbouring room as I type, one obvious difference is that we declared lockdown for this but for no previous killer disease; but rewinding, what is so unusual about the virus that produces the disease that provoked the lockdown?

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