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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Jun 12;(6):CD002190. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002190.pub4.

Vaccines for the common cold.

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Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud Eugenio Espejo, Universidad Tecnológica Equinoccial, Quito, Ecuador.

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The common cold is a spontaneously remitting infection of the upper respiratory tract, characterised by a runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, malaise, sore throat and fever (usually < 37.8˚C). The widespread morbidity it causes worldwide is related to its ubiquitousness rather than its severity. The development of vaccines for the common cold has been difficult because of antigenic variability of the common cold virus and the indistinguishable multiple other viruses and even bacteria acting as infective agents. There is uncertainty regarding the efficacy and safety of interventions for preventing the common cold in healthy people.


To assess the clinical effectiveness and safety of vaccines for preventing the common cold in healthy people.


We searched CENTRAL (2012, Issue 12), MEDLINE (1948 to January week 1, 2013), EMBASE (1974 to January 2013), CINAHL (1981 to January 2013) and LILACS (1982 to January 2013).


Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of any virus vaccines to prevent the common cold in healthy people.


Two review authors independently evaluated methodological quality and extracted trial data. Disagreements were resolved by discussion or by consulting a third review author.


This review included one RCT with 2307 healthy participants; all of them were analysed. This trial compared the effect of an adenovirus vaccine against a placebo. No statistically significant difference in common cold incidence was found: there were 13 events in 1139 participants in the vaccines group and 14 events in 1168 participants in the placebo group; risk ratio (RR) 0.95, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.45 to 2.02, P = 0.90). No adverse events related to the live vaccine were reported.


This Cochrane review has found a lack of evidence on the effects of vaccines for the common cold in healthy people. Only one RCT was found and this did not show differences between comparison groups; it also had a high risk of bias. There are no conclusive data to support the use of vaccines for preventing the common cold in healthy people. We identified the need for well-designed, adequately powered RCTs to investigate vaccines for the common cold in healthy people. Unless RCTs provide evidence of a treatment effect and the trade-off between potential benefits and harms is established, policy-makers, clinicians and academics should not recommend the use of vaccines for preventing the common cold in healthy people. Any future trials on medical treatments for preventing the common cold should assess a variety of virus vaccines for this condition. Outcome measures should include common cold incidence, vaccine safety and mortality related to the vaccine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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