Are Viruses Living?

9 June 2004

Let’s first define life. According to the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary, life is “an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction.”

Viruses are not living things. Viruses are complicated assemblies of molecules, including proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and carbohydrates, but on their own they can do nothing until they enter a living cell. Without cells, viruses would not be able to multiply. Therefore, viruses are not living things.

When a virus encounters a cell, a series of chemical reactions occur that lead to the production of new viruses. These steps are completely passive, that is, they are predefined by the nature of the molecules that comprise the virus particle. Viruses don’t actually ‘do’ anything. Often scientists and non-scientists alike ascribe actions to viruses such as employing, displaying, destroying, evading, exploiting, and so on. These terms are incorrect because viruses are passive, completely at the mercy of their environment.

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  • Firas Al-Ballouz

    Homework completed,thanks.

  • Khan Baba

    Hey, ur saying that acording to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, But here Merriam-Webster Dictionary, also define virus is Living thing./……………………….
    First Reserch plz

  • me! :-)

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    I meant every, not ebery.

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  • DestinyAndrews

    explain how a virus is a living thing???

  • jmstarr

    is this accurate?

  • Angus Landeryou

    I thinj viruses arent alive or dead. They are simoly biological machines, dependant in a “user” (cells) to do anything in life.
    .that said they are the most useless things I could think of. Even Jellyfish contribute to the world in their own weird jelly-ish way

  • DIPRT

    Good

  • DC Welker

    Now you are getting to the root. Think about this as well, if viruses were never alive to begin with, why do we get vaccines. The medical field teaches us the vaccines are made from dead or weak (but alive) viruses. Do you smell some bullcrap in there yet?