Why Is There No Cure for Cordyceps in the Last of Us?


At this point, we all know that the pandemic in The Last of Us was caused by something called the Cordyceps Brain Infection (CBI), which plummeted the world back into the stone age when it caused humans to act like monsters and forced survivors to live poor lives in Quarantine Zones (QZs). Of course, 20 years went by since the start of the outbreak, and it is clear that there seems to be no end to this pandemic due to the fact that there is no cure for the CBI. So, why is there no cure for Cordyceps?

There is no cure for Cordyceps in The Last of Us because there are no previous studies or research about it affecting humans. It is also unlike other infections that are caused by viruses and bacteria that can be cured using medicines or viruses. The society also fell apart quite fast before research could be done.

It is the very fact that the CBI has no cure in HBO’s The Last of Us that makes this storyline so scary as this is unlike any other post-apocalyptic storyline. While other post-apocalyptic shows that focus on zombies have cures or vaccines for the viruses that caused the outbreaks, the CBI is caused by a naturally-occurring fungus. And this is probably the reason why there is no cure for this outbreak.

Why Is There No Cure For Cordyceps?

The opening scenes of the first two episodes of HBO’s The Last of Us allowed us to see a different side to the entire pandemic that swept the globe in this series. Of course, we learned in episode 1 that the cause of the apocalypse was an outbreak that came about as a result of the Cordyceps Brain Infection. For starters, Cordyceps are natural fungi that infect insect brains and take over their bodies.

In the opening scenes of The Last of Us, we were allowed to see scenarios that aren’t exactly connected to the journey of Joel and Ellie but are still important to the event of the series. The first episode allowed us to see a doctor telling the world that the next outbreak that he feared was one that is fungal in nature. Meanwhile, in episode 2, we saw that an Indonesian professor of mycology named Ibu Ratna panicked when she learned that Cordyceps was able to infect humans even though she knew her entire life that Cordyceps are unable to survive in human bodies.


How Realistic Is The Last of Us Scenario?

It goes without saying that the infection did indeed affect humans and eventually plummeted the world back into the stone age when the CBI destroyed conventional human civilization and forced human survivors to retreat into QZs to avoid the infection and contain its spread. The pandemic lasted for more than 20 years as no one was able to develop a cure or a vaccine for the CBI. And this was something that the opening scenes of The Last of Us allowed us to see.

In episode 1, the opening scene said that a fungal infection is scary because it didn’t have a cure. Meanwhile, in episode 2, Ibu Ratna said that there was no cure or vaccine for Cordyceps. So, why isn’t there any cure for Cordyceps?

ibu ratna

When we look at the pandemics that the world has seen since the dawn of recorded history, they were all caused by viral or bacterial outbreaks. Of course, conventional medicine has allowed doctors to develop medicine or vaccines that could fend off viruses and bacteria that can cause illnesses that are potentially fatal. For example, the world paused for around two years during the COVID-19 pandemic but has already returned to near-normal standards due to the development of a vaccine.

However, the fact that the outbreak in The Last of Us was caused by a fungus is what makes it unique. While fungal infections are common in the world and can be cured, the thing about the fungus in The Last of Us is that it was previously only capable of infecting insects, and that means that there is little to no research about it and its effects on humans.

But because Cordyceps were able to evolve to affect and infect humans, it spread so quickly and so suddenly before humans could actually do anything to prevent it from spreading. Of course, there’s also the fact that it being a fungal infection made it difficult for doctors and researchers to develop conventional medical solutions that usually only work on viruses and bacteria.


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We also can’t forget about how this fungus was able to spread so quickly that it caused human civilization to fail so fast before anyone could react to it. As such, it became almost impossible for anyone to develop a cure for this infection. And the fact that human bodies don’t have the natural means to fend off its effects also made it difficult for anyone to develop a cure or a vaccine based on the human body’s ability to resist the infection.

Is It Possible To Cure Cordyceps In The Last Of Us?

While the series has stressed the fact that there is no cure or vaccine for the Cordyceps Brain Infection, all hope wasn’t lost because the Fireflies were actively working on a cure or a vaccine. That is why Ellie is so important to Marlene and the Fireflies.

ellie marlene.png

As of this writing, Ellie is the only one who has shown immunity to the CBI as the fungus doesn’t seem to affect her at all despite the fact that she was bitten by infected several times already. That means that she is naturally immune to the effects of this infection and that she cannot turn into one of the infected.

That is why Ellie could be the key to creating a cure or a vaccine for the CBI. Of course, we don’t know what the Fireflies are planning to do with her to get to the bottom of her immunity to the infection. But all we know is that a cure or a vaccine is possible, considering that there is someone who is mysteriously immune to the effects of this fungal infection.

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