Complacency leads to vulnerability. As a species we have always been susceptible to microbial attacks, for centuries we’ve played a game of cat and mouse as we‘ve co-existed with a challenging nemesis. SARS-CoV-2 has laid bare many shortcomings, not least the inequities of global resources and opportunities. But there is cause for optimism. We hear from some of the individuals working in the infectious disease ecosystem who are committed to building the necessary foundations and implementing the requisite methodologies to deal with these viral invaders. Whether it is in the field of biosecurity, surveillance, data modelling, vaccine research, therapeutic and diagnostic development – the world needs to coalesce and develop a coordinated approach across all disciplines and across all borders. As William Haseltine aptly sums up in his column, the question isn’t whether it’s achievable, it’s whether there is the political will to do it.