It can be complicated but I will try to give a simple explanation:
Viruses are the most abundant “life” form on Earth, (alive or not?) They are billions, and billions of viral particles all over the world. Are they alive? Depends on location, outside of a cell its inert/dormant, so it can’t reproduce or produce anything.
For a virus to spread, first it needs to find a way into a cell. Viruses have ways of tricking cells into letting them in, because is not that easy entering a cell. Typically, a portion of the viral capsid, the protein shell of a virus, will have a strong affinity to bind with one or another protein dotting the surfaces of one or another particular cell type. The binding of the viral capsid with that cell-surface protein serves as an entry ticket, easing the virus’s invasion of the cell. Once it does that it can spread easily in our body and we can spread it to others in different ways: airborne, droplets, human secretions- blood, semen, contact… that is one of the reason we are asked to please wear a mask and gloves during the COVID-19 sad situation.
The viral genome, is an instruction kit for the production of proteins the virus needs. This genome can be made up of DNA, as is the case with virtually all other creatures, or RNA which encodes genetic information just as DNA does but is flexible and less stable. Most of the ones infecting us are RNA. Besides that a virus also needs, another gene for its own version of an enzyme known a polymerase. The viral polymerases, inside the cell, generate numerous copies of the invader’s genes. Viral genomes can also contain genes for proteins that can co-opt the cellular machinery to help viruses replicate and escape, or that can modify the virus’s (or ours) own genome.
Viral mutation rates are much higher than bacterial rates, and RNA, unfortunately, viruses, including the coronavirus, mutate even more easily than DNA viruses do. Viruses don’t always kill the cells they take hostage. Instead, some become chronic like HIV, they are called Retrovirus. These silent genes can activate when our immune response is weakened, setting off new rounds of viral replication. Viruses can be so complex, and they are very different, easy mutations etc makes them hard to pin. Viruses can be encoded in a variety of ways, some are based on a 2ble or a single strand like Corona Virus, like mentioned before some are from DNA strands like Herpes.
Your immune system may be able to fight it off, however viruses technically do not die, they can lay dormant, sometimes we might never show signs or symptons that we have a virus. For most viral infections, treatments can only help with symptoms while you wait for your immune system to fight off the virus. Antibiotics , like we know, do not work for viral infections. There are antiviral medicines to treat some viral infections, but again, nothing really “kills”them or get rid of them completely.
There are some vaccines to help prevent certain viruses, also medication like I wrote before and natural remedies like: Pau D’ Arco, Colloidal Silver, St John’s Wort, Elderberry among others. Really try to be healthy, eat well, exercises, get medical check ups, holistic health (Acupuncture, Chiropractic…), less stress and in our current situation…please: STAY HOME, be safe!
Pic: Anna Shvets, pexels.com