Since viruses aren't technically "alive" in the
first place, so we can't really "kill" something
that isn't alive. Antiviral drugs (like Tamiflu,
that was stockpiled during the swine flu outbreak
5 years ago) don't actually destroy the target but
rather inhibit it from acting. Many new drugs are
being developed to attack the vial reproduction
cycle and prevent it, but these drugs don't
actively destroy the already-existing viruses. Our
cells do destroy viruses with proteins designed
for breaking up threatening targets in the body.
That is what antiviral vaccines do: they provide a
weak or inactivated dose of the virus, so the
immune system can recognize the virus and know how
to destroy it if the body ever does encounter it.
For rapidly mutating viruses such as the flu, the
"target" given to your immune system changes every
year, which is why you need annual flu
vaccination. Some viruses that mutate even faster,
like HIV, can't be vaccinated against yet.
Outside of the body, you can destroy viruses
with a variety of methods. Alcohol (at very high
concentrations only) is very effective at
destroying them, for example. In labs, you can
also use fire, very high temperatures, or harsh
chemical treatments to destroy viruses.
Yes. The problem is in finding a way to kill the
virus particles that does not harm the host more
than the virus does. For example, if a person has
a virus, then cremating the person would kill
every viral particle in his or her body - but it
would kill the person as well, so this isn't
something we want to do, medically.
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