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The coronavirus isn’t alive. That’s why it’s so hard to kill.

The novel coronavirus that lodges itself in the respiratory tract and destroys the host body, is a dangerous pathogen packeted with genetic material and guarded by a spiked protein shell, that is one-thousandth the width of an eyelash. Viruses like these have killed millions of people over the years, these have increasingly jumped from animals to the human population, jumping from one human to thousands via coughing or sneezing. As scientists and researchers from all around the world race to find a way to kill the SARS-CoV-2 producing virus, a question arises in the minds of all. Whether the 2019 virus is dead or alive? Many claim that the coronavirus isn’t alive as they do not have the most basic symptoms of life:  metabolism, motion, the ability to reproduce.

The scientific community has constantly changed its collective mind on what viruses are for about 100 years. Viruses today are thought of as being in a grey area between living and nonliving, first seen as toxins, then as life-forms, then biological chemicals: they do not reproduce on their own but can do so in genuinely living cells and can also deeply influence their hosts’ behavior. They use proteins on their surfaces when viruses reach a host to open and enter their unsuspecting cells. Then they take charge of the molecular machinery of those cells to generate and assemble the necessary materials for more viruses. “It’s a switching between alive and not alive,” said Gary Whittaker, Professor of Virology at Cornell University. He described a virus as being “between chemistry and biology” somewhere.

In the meantime, public health initiatives such as testing and social distancing, and our own immune systems are the strongest tools we have against the coronavirus. Viruses do not spread unless people support them, and by washing hands and social distancing, people can avoid the spread. “If you don’t pass it on, then that virus hits a dead-end in its pseudo-life since coronavirus isn’t alive.”

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