Why can’t people take antivirals the way we take antibiotics? Why not prescribe antivirals for things like the common cold?

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Why can’t people take antivirals the way we take antibiotics? Why not prescribe antivirals for things like the common cold?

In: Biology
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Antivirals need to be very specific for the virus so most of the time they would be useless. Antibiotics are more broad spectrum and more useful against most bacteria

Antivirals dont treat just any virus. Also, antivirals aren’t cures, at all. They keep the virus at bay in most cases and its usually a permanent virus like HIV or HERPES.

In addition to what others said, antivirals are very hard on the body. You don’t want to use them unless it’s absolutely necessary. Taking them for a cold would be like launching an airstrike on a jaywalker.

I am no doctor or biologist but since there are not so many answers I will give a try.

Bacteria are cells that are not part of the body itself and have a life of their own (a cell of your skin is part of your body and would be usell and die if let alone, while a bacteria can survive and reproduce itself has long as the condition are met). [Some bacteria are usefull or even needed for your body to be well (on your skin, in your intestine,…).](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_microbiome) Some are detrimental to it.

If you take antibiotics, it will mainly target the cells that are bacteria, potentially reducing some of the [goods ones like those in your intestine](https://www.nature.com/articles/d42859-019-00019-x).

Viruses aren’t bacteria and aren’t cells. They need to infiltrate and take control of cells (body cells or bacteria) to reproduce themsleves. By doing so they often change the purpose of the cells they have infiltrated. The antivirals will most of the time work against the virus’ reproduction rather than targeting and destroying it since it is potentially hidden in the body’s cells. Targeting the body’s cells is what we are doing when fighting cancer and you know the toll it takes.