The COVID-19 virus that appeared in China in December has caused some of the greatest social and economic disruption ever seen in developed countries outside of wartime. It poses a severe public health risk. As of today, 11,000 people have died, and this number is increasing quickly as the virus spreads exponentially and health systems become overwhelmed with patients. Quarantine and “social distancing” measures have been introduced in most developed countries to slow the spread of COVID-19, forcing people to put their lives on hold. 

I am writing this from my flat in Paris, which I am not allowed to leave except to buy food or do brief exercise. I don’t know when it will next be possible to see my family. I am lonely, bored and anxious about the future. But I am also immensely privileged. Here are a few ways. I am living alone in a reasonably spacious flat. I have access to clean water and soap any time I want. That means I can easily follow the WHO advice to avoid social contact and wash my hands frequently. I have access to reliable and regularly updated news media in my own language, so I know how COVID-19 is spreading, what measures are being taken, and what I personally should do. If I need to see a doctor, I can. If I contract COVID-19 and need intensive care, I am likely to get it. Most readers of this article will be in a similar situation. 

Living through the pandemic is scary, frustrating and depressing. Many of us will face personal tragedies, lose our jobs or have our education disrupted. But all of us who are following public health advice and waiting in relative physical comfort for it all to be over should