TOO MANY VIRUSES
What we know to be the common cold is actually hundreds of strains of viruses, many falling within the large family called a rhinovirus. In a typical year, there are three to four flu strains to look out for, but there can be 20 to 30 strains of rhinoviruses circulating.
AMOUNT THE COLD COSTS THE U.S. ECONOMY, WHICH IS MORE THAN THE COST OF HEART FAILURE
HARD TO VACCINATE AND TREAT
We’re usually protected from viruses through vaccination, but it’s nearly impossible to develop an annual vaccine for cold-causing viruses because there are too many and they change often. Rhinoviruses fall under three categories: A, B and C. While there is research in drug development for types A and B, research for C viruses is further behind.
LACK OF INCENTIVE
Compared with those of other infectious diseases, the symptoms of the common cold are rather benign, and a cold is rarely fatal. The runny nose and sore throat we experience are actually side effects from our immune system’s attack on the virus to make us better.
This appears in the July 06, 2015 issue of TIME.