If the world now learned how to stop the spread of the common cold not just accept it and pass it round, we could beat COVID-19. The “common” cold is not so common anymore. More rhinoviruses and coronaviruses have entered the system unchecked and are getting increasingly virulent and harder to contain. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, people including myself would not cancel everything and stay at home with a cold.
Here is academic evidence of the impact of rhinoviruses and coronaviruses on frail older adults, from Oxford University Press. People still think you can catch cold by being exposed to the cold but the cold comes from over 200 different viruses, which makes treating or vaccinating a much less imminent solution that changing our habits and stopping the spread. We need to learn a new normal as colds and flu batter an increasingly medicine-resistant world.
Previous to this pandemic, company bosses would demand people came to the office with cold symptoms. Concern has never been raised about this and the impacts of it never been measured. Who lost an elderly relative or someone recovering from an operation prematurely? Maybe it was linked to the cold someone brought in to work with coffee and donuts. We’d carry on as normal, and that is the problem we can solve by changing our relationship with colds by knowing they are viruses, caught by contact with other people and they kill those recovering from treatment or with underlying health conditions.
What we need to takeaway most from the lockdown and pandemic experience is self-care. Public authorities have not answered our questions or given us clear advice, as this Reuters study shows. Detail and clarify is most needed here right now. Governments, media, social media, public services and businesses all need absolute rules on responding to cold and flu viruses. We could even create a game that could help prevent spread of colds to help teach children too. New Zealand has successfully eradicated the virus using the track and trace approach abandoned in the UK in early March.
Healthline published this article on 13 March, but government controls on the “infodemic” have meant that these guidelines were not readily available before the lockdown started, when they may have made a difference. We need to get good at containing cold viruses – colds pass quickly because they are mild and can kill vulnerable people, which is also true of COVID-19. Cold viruses cannot be inoculated against as there are 4 coronaviruses and over 200 rhinoviruses circulating. The variety of viruses is the problem. If the world now learned how to stop the spread of the common cold not just accept it and pass it round, we could beat COVID-19
While governments have focused funding and attention on finding a vaccine, they ignore many scientific disciplines and research, which we need right now. Westminster has not put individuals’ best interests first and allowed inequality to hide the true picture of the spread of COVID-19. Lack of transparency in Downing Street has further damaged public trust and divided society, with Wales and Scotland taking a different path to the rest of England and banning companies that use off-shore tax havens from bailouts.
healthline also published these more detailed guidelines at the start of the lockdown on protecting ourselves from COVID-19 as details including the correct use of a mask and stopping the transfer of lingering particles on surfaces to your eyes, nose and mouth are also important. As COVID-19 is not easily detectable, we need to make these precautions second nature.
Overall, inequality needs to be addressed to tackle this virus as Sciencemag reports. In America, Native American communities have been hard hit as have people of colour living in inner cities. Overall government reporting does not reflect this. Responsible governments could be providing grants and making laws to contain the virus where it spreads the most – amongst people commuting on public transport, working around other people, such as Amazon packers or supermarket staff and especially frontline health workers treating people in hospitals or care homes.
Soon, in the UK, state schools will reopen, while the private schools will stay closed until September. The trend in parliament of MPs from non-fee paying schools is improving but still does not reflect the nation, as FE News shows.
In Spain, right wing party VOX has called a protest and the better off in richer areas are blocking the roads in their cars, hooting their horns and protesting the government against the lockdown. The focus on stopping the spread needs to be on protecting those communities most affected and ensuring their lives aren’t disproportionately affected because of centralised government control. If any crisis calls for cross-party consultation, it must be this one as all sections of society and walks of life need to be considered. Many problems have arisen from the one-size-fits-all approach.
There are many reasons why there is not a cure for the common cold and that is why it teaches us how and why not to spread COVID-19. The increasingly less common cold provides immunity against more virulent infections and cannot be vaccinated against or cured. Our immune systems fight it and provide our convalescence.
By knowing more about the spread of colds and flu ourselves, we can be more self-sufficient to recover and not spread it to anyone else. Convalescence with nutritious food, walks, sunshine, quality sleep, avoiding stress and getting enough vitamins and micronutrients all help the body do its work. Echinacea, sadly ignored before shops shut, helps with immunity and eucalyptus helps clears sinuses and breathing pathways. Futures in eggs and orange juice illustrated that people instinctively turned to more nutritious food, connected more with others and began to appreciate outdoor exercise more.
We can all learn to not spread viruses from now on but we need governments to make the right laws, support the right communities and give out the right information and ensure the press delivers that information instead of exploiting the situation to stir up trouble.