Imagination and remembrance: what role should historical epidemiology play in a world bewitched by mathematical modelling of COVID-19 and other epidemics?

Although every emerging infectious disease occurs in a unique context, the behaviour of previous pandemics offers an insight into the medium- and long-term outcomes of the current threat. Where an informative historical analogue exists, epidemiologists and policymakers should consider how the insights of the past can inform current forecasts and responses.