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Why do virus' kill the host? Isn't that anti-evolutionary/disadvantageous for the DNA of the Virus?

I am just trying to understand why virus' kill. Wouldn't that be a non-beneficial mutation? Do said types of lethal virus' lead to their own extinction? Is there any technical terms for this kind of thing?

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  • Amy
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Viruses do evolve to live in a host without killing it. Or to kill it slowly enough that the virus can spread to several other individuals before its host dies.

    But sometimes they happen to spread to another species which is similar enough that the virus can survive for a short time, but which dies much faster.That's why recent influenza outbreaks have been called "bird flu" and "swine flu". The viruses evolved in birds or pigs without killing them, then caused trouble for humans. COVID19 most likely evolved in bats.

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  • 2 months ago

    By the time the host dies, the virus has reproduced and spread.

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  • 2 months ago

    Viruses need their host's cells for reproduction. Once they have invaded and reproduced, the cell is no longer viable for either the virus or the host. 

    SO, as long as the host is producing more cells than the virus is killing, they can get along well -- parasitic relationships can last a long time.

    So, try "parasitic" and "parasite" as technical terms.

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  • Steven
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    It's a matter of statistics. The Corona virus is a pandemic because it does not kill most people. It spreads successfully because most people hardly notice and go on with life, spreading the virus. A small percentage of deaths are just collateral damage and not a problem to the virus. If the virus had a mind to choose, it would not kill anyone. But the virus is a mindless piece of RNA that gets into your cells and causes them to make more virus. There is no plan, no purpose, no thought involved. A virus is a by-product of something alive, in this case probably bats, that happens to be dangerous to us because we are similar to the source (~bats). If a virus was 100% lethal, it would not go far.

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  • Dixon
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    Yes. And if it wipes out all humans then it will have no hosts left (apart from bats) and the virus will be less numerous. But this has to play out in real time. The virus doesn't choose to exist or mutate or know what will happen, it just happens. Species go extinct all the time and always have done, that is part of the process. Evolution explains why the survivors are more fit, it isn't a set of instructions for species to follow.

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  • Zirp
    Lv 7
    2 months ago

    You make it sound like the virus makes a choice. It doesn't.

    Yes, viruses that are less lethal will be passed on longer and further than those that kill instantly

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  • 2 months ago

    cause thats what they do

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  • 2 months ago

    Viruses reproduce by hijacking the host's cellular machinery. That is unhealthy for the host, by definition. From the virus's point of view, killing the host is fine, as long as it is alive long enough for the virus to spread to a new host.

    That said, there is selective evolutionary pressure. The longer the host is alive and moving around among other hosts, the better for the virus. And in fact, this is a pattern that is often observed when new pathogenic viruses pop up. They tend to get less lethal as time goes on. The reasons are more complicated than I've laid out here, but it is part of the equation.

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  • 2 months ago

    Listen, and understand. That terminator is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

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