Review: Preventing the Common Cold with Vaccines

The development of vaccines for the common cold has been difficult due to the antigenic variability of the virus
The development of vaccines for the common cold has been difficult due to the antigenic variability of the virus

A Cochrane Review has found no conclusive evidence to support the use of vaccines for preventing the common cold in healthy people, as compared to placebo.

Dr. Simancas-Racines of the Centro Cochrane Ecuatoriano en Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial in Ecuador and colleagues searched 5 databases, including Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), as well as an additional 3 trial registers and 4 websites for ongoing trials, with no language or date restrictions to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing virus vaccines with placebo to prevent the common cold in healthy people. 

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Their review included 1 RCT from the 1960s that had an overall high risk of bias. The RCT, which included 2307 healthy participants, compared the effect of an adenovirus vaccine against placebo. It found no statistically significant difference in common cold incidence. There were 13 (1.14%) events in 1139 participants in the vaccines group and 14 (1.19%) events in 1168 participants in the placebo group (RR 0.95, 95% CI 0.45 to 2.02; P=0.90). The RCT reported no adverse events related to the live vaccine.

“The quality of the evidence was low due to limitations in methodological quality and a wide 95% confidence interval,” the reviewers wrote.

They concluded that their review found “no conclusive results to support the use of vaccines for preventing the common cold in healthy people compared to placebo.”

They added that their review “identified a need for well-designed, adequately powered RCTs to investigate vaccines for the common cold in healthy people.” And they noted that future trials should “assess a variety of virus vaccines” and should include “common cold incidence, vaccine safety, and mortality related to the vaccine.”

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