Is COVID 19 virus a living thing?

COVID 19 virus coming out to the surface cell in large numbers

An electron microscopic view of the COVID 19 viruses coming out to the surface of a cell in a laboratory (photo credit: NIAID; the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license;https://www.flickr.com/photos/niaid/49557785797

COVID 19 is a virus; is it a living thing?

For the first time, in 1935, Wendell Stanley, a chemist, isolated some proteins from a plant virus; it was later recognized as RNA. He and others knew at that time its ability to multiply once inside a living cell but not by itself. (He shared the Nobel prize in 1946 for the achievement).

This entity – called virus – when lands on a living cell, sheds its covering, injects the RNA into the cell. The cell nucleus misreads the RNA as its own one and begins to multiply.

In a way, a virus owns only a blueprint. It has to depend on others for materials to multiply; that means it essentially needs a host whether the host likes it or not. Once it lands on the cell wall, it tricks the cell to get the wall opened and sends the RNA or DNA inside the host cell. That is it. It robs all the host’s material, tricks again the host’s nucleus to misread, and ultimately the helpless host begins cloning the virus. And, it goes on and on.

Back to square one: Is a virus a living thing? not really; then is it a dead thing? not really. Then, what is it? something in-between.

There are many informational YouTube videos that describes how the virus tricks our cells to get into. This is one of such a video clip.

Author: Prasantha De Silva

A specialist in Community Medicine board-certified in Sri Lanka and a research analyst in Canada

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