What will become of SARS-CoV-2? Will it be a smallpox we are able to hunt down and eradicate; a measles we are able to eliminate in some parts of the world but not others; or an influenza, a virus we must go to war against year after year? The question has been increasingly exercising scientists and politicians in recent weeks and – without some basic ground rules – risks opening another destabilising divide. Badges are already being pinned to armbands, technical terms minced, and facts selectively picked to buttress existing ideologies. In cartoon terms, there are two opposing and extremist camps: the Zero Covid brigade, who would have us locked down until the virus is wiped from the face of the earth; and the Covid Sceptics who think the whole pandemic has somehow been overblown.