Skip to main content

WHY THE COMMON COLD REMAINS UNCURED

While modern science has made leaps and bounds to cure diseases like polio and smallpox, one feat still remains out of reach. As early as the 1950s, scientists first began looking into the causes of the common cold.1 And to this day, the search for a cure is still ongoing for many reasons.

Challenges to Curing the Common Cold

It’s easy to mistake a bad cold for a flu, but there are differences between them. Colds are generally less severe and don’t come on as suddenly as the flu. Also, certain symptoms are likely to be more prominent.

It’s not just one virus

Rhinovirus, the actual virus that’s responsible for more than half of cold-like illnesses, has more than 100 known strains.2 So for scientists to make a vaccine that protects against so many different cold viruses is just too difficult.2

Viruses change too frequently

Scientists are hard at work trying to develop a vaccine or antiviral drug for the common cold, but rhinovirus strains regularly mutate and create new strains.Additionally, each cold season, there can be 20-30 different types of rhinovirus. That makes it hard for public health officials to predict which ones will be around each year.4

Colds are not usually life-threatening

For most people, a cold is just an annoying occurrence that happens a few times per year.If there was a vaccine, it would have to carry a very small risk-to-benefit ratio for the FDA to approve it (meaning any potential side effects should be less risky than those of the common cold).4

What you can do

There are a few measures you can take to help lessen the symptoms of a cold. Along with plenty of rest and fluids, a wide variety of over-the-counter medications such as Theraflu® can help temporarily relieve the symptoms of a cold.5

You may also like