CORE links modern economic methods to pressing policy challenges: mounting inequalities, climate change, concerns about power in the workplace, and financial instability. COVID-19 has highlighted inequalities in new ways, demonstrated the risks of ignoring pollution linked to climate change and underscored the role of governments in stabilising economies, coordinating responses and preparing for adversity. The pandemic also highlighted the role of science and trust in protecting society against adversity. Differences in preparedness, often the result of many years of incremental policy developments, have been particularly significant in this fast moving crisis. This post describes how scientists, preparedness and luck combined to simplify crisis management in Germany. But neglect of the exploitation of workers in the meat-processing industry has created unexpected external effects as new lockdowns are now being declared.