OET Reading Sample 11
The Common Cold: A History of Research and Discoveries
The common cold, an exceedingly prevalent and vexing affliction that plagues humanity, exacts a substantial toll on individuals. Adults are estimated to endure two to four colds per annum, while children may be subject to as many as ten. Caused by an assortment of viruses that invade the upper respiratory tract, this malady manifests through an array of symptoms such as incessant sneezing, profuse rhinorrhea, a scratchy throat, persistent cough, throbbing headaches, and intermittent fever.
Notwithstanding its ubiquitous nature and profound implications for health and productivity, a cure or vaccine for the common cold remains elusive. Nevertheless, over the past century, countless researchers have made noteworthy contributions toward unraveling the intricate etiology, epidemiology, prevention, and treatment of this multifaceted disease.
The initial scientific endeavor to comprehensively study the common cold was undertaken in 1914 by Wilhelm Kruse, a distinguished German physician. Kruse diligently collected nasal secretions from individuals suffering from colds and judiciously passed them through a finely crafted porcelain filter to effectively eliminate bacterial contaminants. Subsequently, he astutely inoculated the meticulously filtered filtrate into the nostrils of healthy volunteers, who promptly exhibited an analogous constellation of symptoms. This pioneering experiment conclusively established the viral origin of the common cold, shattering prior misconceptions.
Nevertheless, it wasn’t until the annals of scientific history recorded the momentous year of 1933 that the pioneering efforts of a tenacious British team led by Christopher Andrewes and Patrick Laidlaw at the esteemed National Institute for Medical Research in London bore fruit. Employing the formidable technique of tissue culture, an ingenious methodology entailing the fastidious cultivation of cells from primate kidneys in precisely calibrated glass flasks, the indefatigable researchers judiciously exposed these precious cells to meticulously procured nasal washings from afflicted individuals. To their astonishment, they painstakingly observed the insidious impact of an enigmatic and invisible agent, later christened virus-L (which would eventually be identified as the notorious influenza A virus), as it relentlessly laid waste to a significant subset of the cultured cells. Moreover, they deftly demonstrated the transmission of this pernicious virus to ferrets, resulting in an alarming constellation of respiratory symptoms.
In the wake of World War II, the year 1946 marked the establishment of the illustrious Common Cold Unit (CCU) by the eminent Medical Research Council (MRC), nestled within the prestigious confines of Harvard Hospital in the serene town of Salisbury, England. The hallowed halls of the CCU pulsated with pioneering zeal as a dedicated cohort, led initially by Andrewes and subsequently under the astute stewardship of David Tyrrell, embarked upon a noble quest: conducting an ambitious gamut of laboratory investigations and groundbreaking epidemiological research aimed at unearthing the esoteric intricacies of the common cold. To further this noble cause, the CCU meticulously enlisted intrepid volunteers from the public, individuals fortified with an indomitable spirit, willing to bravely subject themselves to controlled exposure to the virulent agents of the common cold, while willingly enduring a protracted period of rigorous isolation lasting a full ten days.
Unbeknownst to the world, the hallowed corridors of the CCU would bear witness to an astonishing milestone in the annals of medical history. The year 1960 became indelibly etched in the collective memory of the scientific community when the intrepid researchers triumphantly identified the first-ever human coronavirus, denoted as B814. This seminal discovery was serendipitously facilitated by a fortuitous encounter with a young boy, tormented by the classic symptoms of the common cold. Intriguingly, subsequent inoculation of volunteers with this enigmatic virus, obtained from the nascent patient, engendered an uncanny mirroring of the characteristic illness. Alas, conventional diagnostic techniques, such as tissue culture or electron microscopy, proved woefully inadequate, failing to detect any known virus in the nasal washings. It was only through the unparalleled acumen and meticulous technique of Scottish virologist June Almeida, armed with the revolutionary methodology of immune electron microscopy, that the world bore witness to the ethereal splendor of the coronavirus. As the precious virus particles were ensconced in a cloak of antibodies and adorned with the resplendent aura of golden particles, Almeida’s discerning gaze discerned the virus’s distinctive coronal appearance under the microscope, effectively bequeathing it the evocative sobriquet of “coronavirus.”
Over the course of its distinguished existence spanning multiple decades, the indomitable CCU relentlessly delved into the recesses of the common cold, unveiling a captivating pantheon of cold viruses. From the ubiquitous rhinoviruses, reigniting the embers of the common cold with an unyielding fervor, to the formidable adenoviruses, the parainfluenza viruses wreaking havoc within the recesses of the respiratory system, and the notorious respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), notorious for its insidious assault on vulnerable populations, the CCU tirelessly ferreted out an astonishing litany of causative agents. Let us not forget the menacing enteroviruses, with their malevolent representatives such as coxsackievirus and echovirus, alongside the enigmatic reoviruses lurking in the shadows. When the final curtain fell upon the CCU’s distinguished existence in 1989, the hallowed halls had become fertile breeding grounds for over 1,000 meticulously crafted scientific papers, encapsulating diverse facets of common cold research, a testament to their unyielding pursuit of enlightenment.
In the annals of modern scientific inquiry, the year 2011 ushered in a resplendent beacon of hope in the form of the Common Cold Project (CCP), an audacious brainchild of Carnegie Mellon University. The CCP’s overarching mandate entailed the meticulous compilation, documentation, and archival of a prodigious database, meticulously amalgamating the final research data from five meticulously orchestrated prospective viral-challenge studies, conducted over the preceding quarter-century. These groundbreaking studies, predicated upon the audacious exposure of robust, yet willing, volunteers to the pernicious maelstrom of cold viruses, deftly quantified multifarious outcomes. Parameters such as infection incidence, illness severity, immunological responses, and the intricate interplay of psychological and behavioral factors were intricately measured and meticulously cataloged. The veritable treasure trove ensconced within the CCP database encompasses an astonishing tapestry of data, culled from over 2,000 valiant participants and an astounding compendium of 24,000 variables. This unparalleled repository, an invaluable resource for researchers delving into the enigmatic depths of the common cold and its elusive companions, dutifully safeguards original publications, protocols, questionnaires, and manuals, ensuring unfettered access to the fruits of this collective endeavor.
In paragraph 2, what does the pronoun “it” refer to in the phrase “despite its ubiquity and impact on health and productivity, there is no cure or vaccine for it”?
C) Common cold
D) Upper respiratory tract
Based on the information provided in paragraph 2, what can be inferred about the researchers’ opinion regarding the common cold?
A) They believe a cure or vaccine will be discovered soon.
B) They believe the common cold is a trivial illness.
C) They believe the common cold is a complex disease.
D) They believe the common cold is easily preventable.
According to the information in paragraph 3, what was Wilhelm Kruse’s purpose in conducting his experiment with healthy volunteers?
A) To observe the symptoms of the common cold
B) To develop a cure for the common cold
C) To understand the etiology of the common cold
D) To collect nasal secretions for future research
What is the writer’s attitude towards the Common Cold Unit’s research, as indicated in paragraph 4?
In paragraph 5, what can be inferred about the volunteers who participated in the Common Cold Unit’s studies?
A) They were compensated for their involvement.
B) They were unwilling participants in the research.
C) They were primarily children.
D) They had a fear of cold viruses.
Based on the information provided in paragraph 6, what was the purpose of June Almeida’s visualization of the coronavirus under the microscope?
A) To identify the distinctive crown-like appearance of the virus
B) To determine the optimal treatment for coronavirus infections
C) To compare the virus with other known respiratory infections
D) To investigate the transmission of the virus to ferrets
According to paragraph 7, what is one significant contribution of the Common Cold Unit’s research?
A) The discovery of rhinoviruses as the most common cause of colds
B) The development of a vaccine for the common cold
C) The isolation of the first human coronavirus
D) The identification of a new group of RNA viruses
What is the purpose of the Common Cold Project (CCP), as stated in paragraph 8?
A) To create a database for commercial purposes
B) To develop a cure for the common cold
C) To provide resources for researchers studying the common cold
D) To evaluate the safety and efficacy of common cold treatments.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. The use of the names of real organizations, such as Oxford University and the World Health Organization (WHO), is for fictional purposes only and does not imply any endorsement by or affiliation with these organizations.
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