Few of us were alive at the time of total war in the 1940s, but there is nothing comparable in our recent history to the radical measures now enacted. Even the response to the 2008 financial crisis now seems modest.
So you can understand Donald Trump, who had for two months brushed aside the severity of the crisis, declaring himself a ‘wartime president’. Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York, equated ventilators to ‘missiles’ in the conflict. Emmanuel Macron, president of France, said: ‘We are at war.’ For Xi Jinping of China, it was a ‘people’s war’ against the epidemic. Everywhere the headlines are of ‘fight’, ‘battle’ and ‘combat’.