People usually don’t give a lot of thought to the common cold. Colds and flu usually get put under the same general label. But no matter what one calls them, there’s a constant to both. It’s a rare person who really considers just how much this form of illness has changed over the years.
There was a time when nothing could be done about these diseases. Even today people treat cold and flu season as an inevitability. But when one really examines the nature of viruses and vaccines, it becomes apparent just how much has changed. The more we learn about viruses, the more we also learn about how to avoid being infected by them. In fact, to go to a modern trend you could even call it Cold Chain Management 101.
There are companies in the United States and throughout the world that can transport viruses for scientific research regarding the flu. Cold chain management includes all of the methods used to make sure there is a constant temperature for a certain product that is not heat stable. These products could include vaccines, serums, tests, biological samples, etc., from the time it is manufactured or obtained until the time it is used. Cold chain management prevents temperature changes that can impair the integrity of important biological material that is used for research.
Fighting a cold
When people talk about how to fight a cold and flu, they’re usually talking about methods of dealing with an existing infection. But the ideal situation involves preventing an infection in the first place. Or, to be more precise, how to avoid contact with infectious agents.
The nature of a virus
Because the first thing one needs to understand about a virus is that exposure usually means infection. A virus is tremendously effective. It’s a tiny little form of pseudo-life. A virus is remarkable in that it has as much in common with a machine as it does a living cell. It floats around in a state where it doesn’t really do anything.
A virus can be thought of as a tiny robotic syringe that contains instructions on how to create more of itself. It can’t do anything by itself. The only action it’s really capable of is fitting into a biological cell. In the process of doing so, it activates the syringe part to inject genetic material into the cells.
The next step is both remarkable and unfortunate. The genetic material can be thought of as a list of instructions on how to construct a new virus. As mentioned previously, a virus can’t really do much in and of itself. But that single action of injecting new genetic instructions into a cell can create a chain which is difficult to break.
From that point forward, the cell is considered infected. It stops acting like a normal part of the human body. Instead, it turns into a virus generation engine. It will churn out new copies of the initial virus until the body’s immune system shuts it down.
How the body fights back
The host’s immune system fights back by first noticing that something’s wrong. It can notice the virus itself, copies or an infected cell. But it’s not an instantaneous process. It first needs to figure out what’s going wrong with certain parts of the body. To make a real-world comparison, people don’t pull a fire alarm when they notice the faintest whiff of smoke. They wait until they’ve verified that there’s a real fire.
The immune system acts in a similar way. It needs to understand that there’s a problem and then investigate. The only problem is that it takes time to figure things out. And this is where vaccines come in.
The development and effectiveness of a vaccine
The methods by which a virus operates also offers a way to fight it. Most of the suffering from a cold or flu comes during the prolonged combat within one’s body. And the length comes down to how long a body needs to discover just what dangers a virus can pose. It needs to identify that a virus is actually a threat which needs to be dealt with.
Medical experts can take a virus and take advantage of how simple it actually is. The virus can be effectively declawed due to the fact that it’s not really alive. It’s made inert, and incapable of injecting genetic material into a cell. And from there, the now safe virus is put into the body. The human body will then take a while to realize it’s a potential threat. But during that time there’s no actual attack being waged against one’s body.
So there’s no fever or other side effects of illness. The body has a way to learn about a virus before actually being exposed to the real thing. So when that happens it can instantly recognize it and destroy it before any real problem shows itself.
How to break the chain
Given that 80,000 people died during a recent flu season, it’s rather obvious how important this is. But one can see even more value when considering it as a part of breaking a chain. When people are infected, they become agents who spread the virus to others. But if they’re vaccinated then they’re breaking the chain of infection. It’s not just keeping oneself safe from the effects of illness. It’s also about saving others from being exposed to it.