As COVID-19 continues to cause further suffering across the world, historians have suddenly been in demand. Opinion pieces are piling up day after day, and every historian – regardless of whether they work on epidemic disease or not – has a view. What lessons can we draw from the influenza pandemic a century ago? Why is coronavirus not like the Black Death? Partially, of course, some of this trend can be explained by the fact that some of our public health responses – isolation and distancing, in particular – are found in historical sources going back centuries. Overall, however, we wonder whether there is more for us as historians to take on board from COVID-19, rather than the other way around.