Are viruses alive?

Are viruses alive is a tricky question that has caused a some debate over the years.

The general view is that viruses are not alive. They don’t respire, convert nutrients into energy or excrete waste products like organisms we class as being alive do. Viruses can’t even reproduce without taking over another living cell. Once a virus has infected a host cell, it takes over the machinery of the cell to create more virus!

If we compare viruses to a bacteria, bacteria can reproduce independently outside a host, but viruses cannot survive without a host, and usually can’t last long on a surface.

4 reasons a virus is not alive

  • Viruses don’t have cells like other organisms. They have a very basic structure of RNA or RNA ( genetic material ) protected by a simple protein coat.
  • Viruses cannot reproduce without a host cell.
  • They don’t produce their own energy.
  • Viruses don’t respond to their environment like other organisms.

However, viruses can replicate ( inside a host cell ) and do evolve, so what do you think? Is a virus both living and non-living? The debate is open…

Coronavirus 3D image

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