Cold Wars tells the story of the common cold, the most widespread disease of all. From ancient Egypt to the space age, colds have plagued mankind, and many attempts have been made to find a cure. Today, we spend millions of pounds on remedies and businesses lose millions of pounds through employee sickness- but are we any closer to conquering the cold?
In the aftermath of the Second World War, a concerted effort was made in the UK to resolve the scientific conundrum of the common cold. A Common Cold Unit was established near Salisbury, making use of some rather primitive facilities provided by the American Red Cross, and for nearly 50 years was part of the British medical establishment. Much of the research was done on volunteers, who came in large numbers to the CCU to spend days in isolation while scientists attempted to give them a cold. Many eminent scientists, including James Lovelock, were part of the attempt to understand the common cold.
This book begins with a brief history of colds through the centuries, describing what earlier generations believed and the strange treatments they tried. That the cold was caused by a virus was only uncovered at the beginning of the last century. The authors vividly describe the establishment of the Common Cold Unit, and its work in uncovering the causes and transmission of the cold and analysing possible treatments. Finally, they assess the progress made in recent years in understanding the psychological aspects of colds, and the latest research on prevention and cures.
Cold Wars offers a fascinating account of an eccentric, but effective, attempt to unravel the mysteries of the common cold.