A secret initiative at Amazon known as 'Project Gesundheit' is working to create a cure for the common cold


FIle Photo: The logo of Amazon is seen on the door of an Amazon Books retail store in New York City, U.S., February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • A secret project at Amazon known as “Project Gesundheit” is working toward developing a cure for the common cold, CNBC reported.
  • The secretive project is part of Amazon’s “Grand Challenge” R&D initiative lead by Babak Parviz, who previously led an R&D group at Alphabet, Google’s parent company. 
  • While developing a cure to the many viruses that cause a common cold has long been thought as impossible, recent breakthroughs, like one at Stanford University, have indicated it might be more likely that once thought.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Amazon has been working on a cure to the common cold as part of a “years-long” top-secret project known as “Project Gesundheit,” according to CNBC.

CNBC cited three people who had worked on the secret project, though over 100 people work on the project that includes scientists and technologists. They reportedly work as part of Amazon’s “Grand Challenge” research and development group, which has never been publicly acknowledged by Amazon.

The group, sometimes called by codename “1492” is led by Babak Parviz, who previously led Google X, the R&D group at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, CNBC reported.

According to the report Friday, the project hasn’t been entirely focused on healthcare projects, though they have been a major initiative of the group. In 2018, CNBC had reported the project was working on research into cancer treatments and diagnostic technologies.

A cure for the common cold has widely been viewed as impossible as there are 160 known types of rhinovirus that cause what we call the common cold, according to Scientific American.

In addition to the practicality of finding a common cold cure, others have pointed out such a drug would have to have virtually zero side effects, as the common cold typically subsides within a week to two weeks. Side effects could be more severe than the virus itself, venture capitalist Mike Pellini told CNBC.

Amazon’s attempt would not be the first one to cure a common cold. Scientific American reported scientists began working on a cure in the 1950s after rhinoviruses were first discovered. More recently — in 2019 — scientists at Stanford reported making strides toward developing a cure for the illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control, millions of people get a cold each year in the US, and most adults get two to three of them per year.

Pellini also said it’s unclear whether health insurance companies would want to foot the bill for such a cure.

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