Why are Viruses Considered to be Non-Living?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: September 11th, 2023

Did you know why are viruses considered non-living? We will come to know the answer to this question in this article. This information is important for UPSC, NDA, CDS, CAPF, Air Force X & Y, and other competitive exams.

What are Viruses?

Viruses are microscopic parasites responsible for diseases including the flu, Ebola, measles, and HIV. Viruses are made up of DNA or RNA encapsulated in a protein shell and survive by replicating themselves inside a living host, which could be any organism on earth, which means the virus can infect any life form on earth.

Are Viruses Dead or Alive?

So are viruses ‘alive’?

The answer is not that simple as you may think.

Viruses were first discovered Dmitri Ivanovsky in 1892. Some years after their discovery, scientists start thinking that viruses were living because they caused diseases like bacteria, which we know to be alive.

But, viruses lack the hallmarks of other living things.

  • Viruses do not carry out metabolic processes, Including making the energy molecule of life, ATP, and
  • Cells are absent in viruses. Therefore the cellular machinery makes proteins by themselves.
  • The only life process a virus undergoes independently is reproduction (Make Copies), which starts after they have invaded the cells of another organism.
  • Some viruses can survive outside the host, depending on environmental conditions, but their life span is very short.

Why are Viruses Considered to be Non-Living?

  • Viruses are completely reliant on a host for all their vital processes this led some scientists to believe viruses as non-living.
  • Viruses have trademark characteristics of both living and non-living things.
  • For instance, they have the capability to reproduce within a host, just like a parasite. But unlike parasites or any other living thing/organism, viruses can be crystallized in this stage, they remain dormant until they find another host to the cycle all over.

Why are Viruses Considered to be Non-Living?

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