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Could we eradicate the common cold if everyone self-isolated? © Getty Images

Could we eradicate the common cold if everyone self-isolated?

Asked by: Adam King, Huddersfield

The common cold is a global disease which can be caused by more than 200 different strains of virus. Most people are infectious for a day or two before symptoms appear, and remain infectious for one or two weeks.


So to stamp out the cold, we’d need to self-isolate for at least a week after showing any symptoms, and there would need to be a ‘test and trace’ system to identify anyone who we may have been in contact with before symptoms appeared. The economic, mental health and physical health costs of so many people self-isolating would vastly outweigh the benefit of eradicating the cold.

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Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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