Many observers have chosen to liken this global pandemic to an all-out war. But a war rendered all the more scary for having an unseen and silent enemy.
As analogies go, it has its uses. We could extend it by reflecting on the old adage that many military war leaders have in the past busied themselves ineffectively fighting the last conflict - not the one which directly confronted them years later.
That last-war analogy appears to fit the coronavirus and the EU's slow response to what Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has described as "a crisis of unprecedented scale and speed". Even acknowledging that the preponderance of authority in dealing with the coronavirus rests with the individual member states, we have to admit that the overall EU response hasn't been encouraging.
Ms Von der Leyen herself acknowledged a false start in the EU's initial response. The bloc has grappled with a succession of crises in recent years, including an economic crash, a huge surge of migrants, Brexit and breaches of the rule of law in Hungary and other former Eastern Bloc member states.
It has to be acknowledged that the European Union has persisted through the bulk of these challenges, and predictions of its demise, plentiful as recently as three years ago, were in fact greatly exaggerated. But against that, the EU has not prospered as it should have in recent years, nor has it won back the ordinary citizens' support which it must now show it deserves.
The brutal reality is that if the European Union is to have any popular credibility at all over the rest of this year and into the future, then it must come up with imaginative and bold anti-coronavirus initiatives. And here the challenge rests chiefly with the key EU leaders in the capitals, notably but not exclusively in Paris and Berlin, to show bold and creative leadership. The scale of this catastrophe, and its potential to blight so many lives, with the definite return of recession so soon after the last one, means that it is time to throw away big chunks of the economic rulebook. It is time to think and act big.
The danger of the EU fighting the last battle - against the 2008 economic crash - is very real.
It is relying on purpose-designed institutions, like the European Stability Mechanism, to make low-interest loans to states facing catastrophes they faced alone in the 2008 crash.
In Ireland, faith in the EU was shattered by the events which followed the banking and economic collapse 12 years ago.
It makes us know how people in Italy and Spain feel about the poor initial response to their plight over the month of March. There is evidence that the sheer scale of the virus in the ensuing weeks has wrought a change of attitude in capitals of the EU's so-called 'frugal north'.
But how that can be channelled into swift and effective aid in mutual solidarity remains to be seen. Discussions between EU finance ministers due tomorrow will be watched very carefully by people across all the member states.