When asked by Henry Kissinger what he thought had been the influence of the French Revolution, Chinese premier Zhou Enlai famously replied: “Too early to say.” Unfortunately, the interpretation of that conversation is largely apocryphal, since Zhou was referring to the more recent 1968 uprising in Paris. Nevertheless, the principle of leisured appraisal of past events might profitably be applied to our reaction to the multifarious revelations contained in leaked WhatsApp messages between health secretary Matt Hancock and colleagues during the Coronavirus lockdown.