The essays appearing in the Topical Collection initiative "Seeing Clearly Through COVID-19" follow a short-form essay format. This departure from the traditional research article length papers that appear in HPLS Topical Collections reflects two key rationales. First of all, a short note could offer a sort of icastic reflection on an aspect of the pandemic, so that the potential reader could have synthetic but intriguing material to think about. These essays reflected a common prompt to deliver a clear, substantially justified—but open—perspective. Second, we thought that this short note format was an appropriate method with which to initially address the precarity that the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare. At the time, this epidemic of global proportions had surprised many people, from laymen, laywomen and children, to politicians, economists, clinicians, biomedical researchers, and humanists.