Are viruses living creatures that respond to a change in environment?
There has been much debate on the status of viruses. Can they be considered as life forms in their own right, or just as rogue processes that plague other organisms that are regarded as life, a form of proto-life maybe? A virus can’t normally stand on its own as a complete individual and has little of the inputs and outputs that would define them as life, certainly reproducing extremely well, but they respond to changes in environment and adapt. Their survival depends on other creatures, but this may also be said of many others and group organisms such as humans.
In the search for eradicating the fast changing Covid-19 virus there is a constant search for a new form of attack or ‘universal vaccine’ that will deal with any mutations in the virus, but it is very likely that any such procedure may allow the virus to evolve and counter that move in a novel and possibly damaging way if it has the time and opportunity.
With the large numbers and distributions of population with the widespread potential for infection it seems almost certain that there will be a counter move or adaption to any new way of fighting it for the virus. The numbers and variants may render any ‘universal vaccine’ short lived, so it may only produce a temporary large-scale victory at the expense of a large-scale reversal at some later point.
This sort of thing has been found with malarial drugs, antibiotics and cancer treatments where plan of a severe and complete eradication has been countered. In mild evolution or change, mainly the slightly stronger or more fitting prosper and survive, so the new organism is similar and closer to the previous, but there is always the chance in a much more severe changes that a new set of methods may be needed by the target organism, the only versions surviving being those that are radically different and much harder to counter.
We are currently seeing very new and novel ways of treating disease, the object being to remove it completely, but being temporarily successful.
The status quo. It is a bit like the situation of an enemy country who is constantly probing the defences, but only using small excursions, living day to day with others, coming under major attack from a new weapon and hunkering down until they can regroup to perform a major counter attack that can bypass that weapons advantage.
Small environmental changes produce small evolutionary impulse, large environmental changing producing large environmental impulses.