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Viruses: Dead or Alive?

Updated on July 2, 2017

What Viruses Are

The dictionary defines a virus as, "an infective agent that typically consists of a nucleic acid molecule in a protein coat, is too small to be seen by light microscopy, and is able to multiply only within the living cells of a host." A virus is almost like a corrupted cell looking for 2 things: Food, and a host cell. Because of these very little requirements for a sustaining life, Viruses have about 2 or 3 strands of DNA. Those strands of DNA are basically the coding for the virus. Viruses almost act like "CPUs" because they only have a few basic skills and movements, and do not have organs or much of anything at all. Basically, Viruses are little strands of DNA-layered in tissue that infects host cells.

Are viruses classified as living creatures?

The short answer is: yes, and no. A virus has the properties of a living thing, yes, but they do not have all the properties of a living thing, so they are kind of in the middle. A good way to think of viruses is to think of them like zombies. Viruses are like "zombies" because they are dead, but somehow alive at the same time. The main way to tell if something is classified as a living thing or not is by how it reproduces. Viruses reproduce by taking of host cells and using the resources to make copies of its self. One of the main reasons why viruses are in the middle of being alive and dead is the strands of DNA it has. All living things have some sort of DNA and nothing that is dead, aka not living in the first place, does not have DNA or RNA.

Do viruses grow?

Viruses do not grow on their own. It is impossible for a virus to eat food because all it can do is multiply. The only thing they can grow in is numbers. Once a virus has found a host cell, it begins to take over and multiply as much as possible, making it harder and harder to get rid of it. Once a cell is taken over, it can either die or turn into a sort of mutant cell. Those mutant cells are also a virus. Keep in mind viruses are so small, that compared to a cell, it's just a speck of dust.

Viruses Are Alive

There is lots of evidence and reasons to why viruses should be classified as living things. Lots of people have tried to prove why viruses are alive. 3 of the main reasons viruses can be classified as alive are listed below.

1. Viruses have DNA or RNA.

2. They have living tissue that is used as a short of skin.

3. They move and act on their own, doing what their DNA tells them to do.

Viruses Are Dead

Most of the internet believes that viruses should not be classified as living things. There is more evidence to viruses being dead to being alive. Some of the main reasons have been conveniently listed down below.

1 Viruses are acellular particles, meaning they are not made up of cells and are made up of tissue.

2 Viruses don't reproduce like normal living things, they need a host cell to survive.

3 They have no way to store energy.

4 They Don't produce waste produces.

5 They Don't Grow.

What do you think?

Do you think viruses are living or dead? Vote on your opinion down below. Thank you for reading my article.

What do you think?

Do you think viruses are alive, or dead?

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    • Cooper Gerrick profile imageAUTHOR

      Cooper Gerrick 

      18 months ago from Portage, Michigan

      Some refer to viruses as nonliving.

    • profile image


      18 months ago

      In a constant state of flux; neither dead or living.

    • Cooper Gerrick profile imageAUTHOR

      Cooper Gerrick 

      18 months ago from Portage, Michigan

      My apologies, but I put this article under the wrong topic. I am sorry for the confusion.

    • Cooper Gerrick profile imageAUTHOR

      Cooper Gerrick 

      18 months ago from Portage, Michigan

      @Penny Sebring That's a good point. Since Vaccines still have a chance to infect certain people with weak or defective immune systems, it seems like they are most likely "deactivated" viruses that still have a chance to infect a host cell.

    • Penny Sebring profile image

      Penny Leigh Sebring 

      18 months ago from Fort Collins

      Interesting points. Brings up the debate as to whether vaccines are made up of killed viruses or just deactivated ones.


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