Amid the nervousness of spot-fire Delta outbreaks around the country and worry over whether cases will get out of hand, there have also been a few sparks of pandemic optimism.
The drip-feed of Covid-19 changes and plans now has a slight ring of momentum about it - even if New Zealand is still waiting for the starter's gun to fire on the new set of traffic light rules.
We are not racing the way Australia is, as it relaunches international travel. And the changes aren't quick enough for some Kiwis who point out contradictions, such as some people here being able to isolate at home while returnees still can't.
But the fact we're actively getting ready is something of a relief after an interminably long and static year. The fear and rebound of 2020 turned to fatigue and frustration in 2021.
At least the fog of limbo is lifting and Act Three is around the corner.
Two other important developments are close.
The United States took a significant step towards allowing children aged between 5 and 11 to get low-strength Covid-19 vaccines. If, as in all likelihood, the move is soon confirmed, New Zealand would surely follow suit. In Australia, a booster programme for all aged 18-plus was approved. A campaign of third doses to protect those who got early shots here is expected soon.
Vaccinating younger children will be important for the safety of schoolkids and will push jab rates above the 90 per cent level.
However, the need for upgraded filtration and ventilation in public buildings such as schools - and, really, anywhere strangers gather indoors in crowds - has not gone away. It should become standard.
Overseas, there have also been long overdue small steps towards addressing a humiliating hole in vaccine spread.
A fraction of the world's coronavirus vaccines have found their way to Africa where shamefully only 5 per cent of 1.3 billion people there are fully vaccinated. Countries outside the Northern Hemisphere were initially forced to wait for doses. Delivery delays continued.
Drug companies Pfizer and Moderna have made a killing from the captive market for Covid-19 vaccines and are forecast, by one estimate, to almost double their sales next year to US$90 billion with countries administering boosters.
Messenger RNA technology used in the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines has a bright future for other medical problems as well, but the firms have been unwilling to allow the transfer of technology to enable the scaling up of Covid dose production.
There has been a backlash for this stance, plus criticism of insufficient donations and vaccine wastage from hoarding. The World Health Organisation has unusually backed a South African effort to replicate the Moderna vaccine.
Former Prime Minister Helen Clark said donor countries had to increase supply to poorer countries. "It is critical for donor countries to see the bigger picture, to see that this really is a time not to profit, but to be stepping up to support all countries to come through this."
All the pressure now appears to be having an impact.
Moderna says it will make up to 110 million doses of its vaccine available to African countries at its "lowest tiered price". If the full contract is fulfilled, 450 million people could be vaccinated by next September, taking into account previous vaccine deals. Moderna had previously said it planned to set up a plant in Africa within four years and has been in discussions with Canada and Australia for facilities in those countries.
BioNTech announced that it is setting up its first manufacturing hub for mRNA vaccines under license in Africa, in a deal with Senegal and Rwanda. Construction won't begin until mid-next year but the long-term importance of such a facility for Africa is significant. The company plans malaria, tuberculosis and HIV treatments.
Another company, Merck, is allowing a royalty-free license for its Covid-19 pill to the Medicines Patent Pool. The drug, which in a trial reduced the risk of hospitalisation and death in patients after infection, could be manufactured and sold cheaply in poor countries.
It isn't sufficient for a challenge of this scale. But this week saw at least some advances here and abroad.