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the coronavirus crisis

The common cold may be ready for its big comeback

Get ready for a burst of the common cold, Stat News reports.

In a recently published study, researchers in Hong Kong analyzed a surge in rhinovirus infections — one of the most frequent causes of the common cold — among students when they returned to classrooms in the fall after months of schools being shuttered. Ben Cowling, a professor of infectious diseases epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong and senior author of the study, told Stat he expects other places will experience a similar pattern as schools reopen.

The theory is that "susceptibility" to rhinoviruses may have increased because people were less exposed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently had fewer chances to build up immunity. The "hardy" rhinoviruses also may be more resistant to protective measures like mask-wearing and social distancing than their coronavirus and influenza counterparts, per Stat.

While the common cold is a far less serious health threat than COVID-19, the Hong Kong researchers did note that the outbreaks in the city included more severe rhinovirus infections than normally seen, with some children needing hospital care. That's prompted concern about a similar decrease in resistance to influenza leading to a "severe" flu season whenever coronavirus restrictions are significantly scaled back. Read more at Stat News.