I am not immune to it. I had some friends staying at the weekend and I thought, for a moment, could they be carriers? And I was in a shop the other day and I thought, should I buy lots of toilet roll? But I also thought: this is normal, to feel a bit of anxiety. The virus spreads in tiny, invisible droplets in the air, but the worry is spread more visibly, by gossip, and social media, and, yes, sometimes newspapers.

But all of the rumours, and the empty shelves, and the graphs rising at rollercoaster angles have also got me thinking about the longer term. There is no upside to coronavirus – absolutely none – and the downsides are considerable and upsetting, particularly for those who can’t afford to stockpile pasta or those who can’t work from home even if they wanted to. But when, in a few weeks or months, we emerge at the other end of this crisis, we will, I hope, have learned something at least about how to do things better.

The first question, surely, is why we’re still living and working like it’s 1955. Most days, most of us get out of bed and get in a car, or a train, or a bus and go into work for eight hours or so, and then at 5pm reverse the process and get in a car, or a train, or a bus and go back home. It’s how our grandparents did things 50 years ago and, by and large, most of us are still doing it now.

However, the response to the coronavirus outbreak has shown us an alternative. Millions of people are being asked to work from home because of the spread of the virus and it’s a reminder that we were once promised a revolution in home-working that’s never really happened. Advances in technology, we were told, would mean fewer of us would travel into an office and yet British companies have been terribly slow to embrace the idea. It’s partly because many managers assume that, unless they can see you, you’re probably skiving. Staff also feel the pressure to be present.

But people commuting into work when they don’t need to is a damaging and inefficient way to do things. I remember a friend of mine once telling me that she would sometimes sit down in the train at the start of her 90-minute commute and burst into tears from the strain of it all. She now works from home and is much happier and that’s not surprising: commuting every day can be bad for you emotionally and physically, particularly when people have to live further and further away from their work because of house prices.

The answer – and this obviously doesn’t apply to many workers who have to be on site – is to embrace the home-working that’s been forced on us for the longer term and I think some companies are starting to do it. A friend of mine tells me the bank she works for is actively considering more efficient and less expensive ways of working for the future because they’ve had to in the present. As for the downsides of working from home, the only drawback I can think of is not seeing your colleagues every day. But one of the advantages is not seeing your colleagues every day.

There will be other benefits to more home-working for all of us – just look at the stats. In the last two months in China, there’s been a massive drop in the levels of pollution, specifically the nitrogen dioxide produced by traffic, and something similar has happened in Italy because of the lockdown on travelling and the reduction in industrial activity. Obviously, freezing economic activity in this way is not a useable model for the future, or the answer to climate change, but the drop in pollution should at least underline the potential health and environmental benefits of getting people to commute less.

And we should think too of where all of this started: the market in China. A so-called wet market in which animals are kept in cramped and dirty conditions before being slaughtered in front of the customers. I’ve been to some of these markets in the Far East and, believe me, you don’t forget the sight of animals being sliced up alive in front of you. They are nasty, horrific and abusive places.

More importantly, the animal markets should and must act as a reminder of the link between disease and the exploitation of animals - exploitation being the operative work because it’s not the animals themselves that cause the transfer of diseases, it’s human interference with the animals that does it. The capture, slaughter, marketing and consumption of them. All of it increases the risk of transferring diseases from animals to humans and the result is a deadly familiarity with all those acronyms. Sars. Mers. Covid-19.

Maybe a positive consequence of it all will be that more people will question the way we behave towards animals. And I’m hopeful they will, based on the theory that crises like coronavirus do, in the end, lead to improvements for wider society. The flu pandemic in 1918 led to the development of vaccines and antibiotics. The Second World War led to the creation of the NHS. So perhaps coronavirus will lead to the better, healthier, and safer treatment of animals, which will mean better, healthier and safer lives for humans too.

So what about the human animal? Will we emerge from this better or worse? I’m thinking of all those supermarket shelves emptied by selfishness, but I’m thinking too of all those patients who are relying on selflessness to keep them safe and well. The carers, doctors, and the nurses, and the experts that some Brexiters once said we didn’t need. We need them now.

Maybe the point is that it was always this way. When the bombs dropped on Britain in the Second World War, some people helped the victims from the rubble while others helped themselves to the loot. The coronavirus hasn’t uncovered the true, terrible truth about human nature, it has merely exposed something we’ve always known, that there are good people who behave well in a crisis and that there are people who behave badly. Let’s see what we can learn from this. Let’s try to improve things where we can. Let’s try to copy the good.