Well I did, and a Googling away I went. Viruses don’t eat I found out, but in my search I found a wonderful website with all the answers about how viruses act and react. I recommend you visit VIRUS WARS: ANTIBODIES STRIKE BACK – which was an exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition in the UK in 2013.  Following is what I found fascinating from the site. “Knowledge is Power,” and with reading what follows you will be better prepared to understand not only COVID-19, but all viruses. Do viruses eat, and are they alive? The answer is near the end.

Every day you breathe in over 100,000,000 viruses.
Antibodies help your immune system fight back.

Viruses are deadly. They kill twice as many people as cancer does – around 15 million people every year. Vaccines have saved many lives, but for most viruses there is no cure. Understanding how viruses work and learning how the human immune system deals with them is critical to finding new treatments.

What is a virus?

All viruses are very simple, they are made up of an outer shell of protein which carries the virus’ DNA (or RNA) – the genetic code with the instructions for making new copies of the virus. Some viruses have an extra layer around the shell, but that’s about it. Despite being so simple there are many different types of virus that can cause diseases from the common cold and flu to chicken pox and AIDS.M

Viruses are all around us – everyday we each breathe in over 100,000,000! Most of these are harmless, but some can make us sick. Viruses are tiny agents that invade the cells of our bodies and hijack the microscopic machines inside our cells to produce millions of copies of the virus, assembling a viral army which bursts out of the cell, spreading the invasion through the body.

Viruses aren’t actually alive – they don’t grow or move themselves, or eat or use energy, and they can’t reproduce on their own. This is why they must invade our cells – so that they can take advantage of the complex machinery, nutrients and energy in our cells, and force the cell to make millions of copies of the virus using the genetic blueprint carried in the virus.

Fascinating facts about viruses

  • You are constantly exposed to viruses – in the air you breathe and things you touch and water you drink.
  • Viruses can cause a huge range of diseases. From viruses that give you a cold to viruses that quickly kill you (rhinovirus – common cold; flu; VZV – chicken pox; SARS; Ebola;)
  • During an infection viruses invade your cells in order to reproduce.
  • Each cell becomes a virus factory, which eventually bursts, releasing 10,000 new viruses which can go on to infect other cells (adenovirus).
  • During an infection you may have several million viruses in every millilitre of your blood.
  • The human body makes use of antibodies to fight disease. You have ~3×107 unique antibodies.
  • The shape of the antibody determines what it can bind to. Because you have so many different antibodies, almost any shape can be recognised.
  • After recognising an invading virus, the cells (B-cells) that produce the individual binding antibody are stimulated to divide.
  • Each antibody producing cell can produce 2000 antibody molecules per second. After 4-7 days, antibody (IgG) is detectable in blood.
  • Antibodies bind to viruses, marking them as invaders so that white blood cells can engulf and destroy them.
  • Until recently, antibodies were thought to protect on the outside of cells. TRIM21 binds to viruses on the inside of cells.
  • TRIM21 sends viruses to the cell’s recycling system (the proteasome) where the virus is destroyed.
  • An antibody is 1,000 times smaller than a virus particle (adenovirus)
  • Two antibodies per virus are enough for TRIM21 to send the virus for destruction.
  • Understanding how TRIM21 and antibodies work may help scientists devise new therapies for virus infection.

Antibodies strike back!

Antibodies are one of the key weapons against viruses in our immune system’s arsenal – they are molecules made by our white blood cells to fight off invaders and keep us healthy. Each of us has more than 10 billion different kinds of antibody – that means there are more different antibodies inside you right now than there are people in the world.

Although antibodies all have the same basic ‘Y’ shape (see picture), they can have any shape at their ‘ends’, so for every shape of virus, there is an antibody to match. Antibodies with the right shape for a virus will stick onto it and alert your cells to destroy the virus. This also turns the cell that is making the right shaped antibody into an incredible antibody-making factory, churning out 2,000 antibodies every second!

Antibodies, Antigens and Antibiotics

They may all start with ‘Anti’, but they mean very different things…

Antibodies are proteins that recognise and bind parts of viruses to neutralise them. Antibodies are produced by our white blood cells and are a major part of the body’s response to combatting a viral infection.
Remember me by: Antibody – Body protection

Antigens are substances that cause the body to produce antibodies, such as a viral protein. Antibodies bind antigens very specifically like a lock and key, neutralising the virus and preventing its further spread.
Remember me by: Antigen – Antibody Generator

Antibiotics are substances that kill bacteria. They are not able to neutralise viruses. Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, so misusing them for non-bacterial infections could have serious consequences rendering the antibiotic ineffective.
Remember me by: Antibiotic – Antibacteria

Are viruses alive?

This is actually a really hard question to answer. Viruses are much simpler than other organisms that we definitely consider alive. For instance, you have about 25,000 genes, whereas HIV has eight. But simple doesn’t necessarily mean not alive.

Viruses must also use a host cell – and all its complex machinery – in order to replicate. This means that a virus can’t replicate without a host. But then you could say the same thing about a head louse, and we would definitely call a louse alive. So where do we begin?

First of all, you have to be really clear by what we mean by alive. Some of these discussions border on philosophy, but the easiest way is to list characteristics that all living beings share. Coming up with a list that includes all recognised life forms but excludes other replicating things (like fire) is tricky. However, here is a commonly used list of features that most accepted living beings share:

  • Growth
  • Reproduction
  • Metabolism (extracting food from the environment and turning it into self)
  • Homeostasis (keeping a regulated internal environment)
  • Responding to stimuli
  • Organisation (having some kind of internal structure, like cells)
  • Evolution

Humans do all these things but viruses do, at best, four of them. Viruses do not grow, metabolise or maintain a constant internal environment. So by this definition, viruses are not alive.

Viruses are the ultimate freeloaders – they sneak into our cells, eat our food and rely on our homeostasis (their favourite temperature just happens to be body temperature!)

Vaccination – Giving your immune system a head start

Have you ever wondered what exactly is in the needle when you get a vaccine, or how that works to protect you against a disease?

A vaccine against a virus actually contains virus – usually either a dead, weakened, or slightly different version of the virus it protects you against. Deliberately injecting a virus may seem like a very strange approach to preventing infections, but is a really effective strategy, because your immune system reacts to the vaccine and makes lots of specific antibodies with the right shape for the vaccine virus. Once you’ve made antibodies to a target, your immune system ‘remembers’ the shapes of antibodies that were effective. This means that if you’ve had the vaccine and then get infected by the real virus, your immune system has a head start and quickly makes lots of the right kind of antibodies, which destroy the virus before it has the chance to spread through your body and make you sick.

The first successful vaccine was developed in 1796 against the smallpox virus, which killed about 500 million people in the 20th century. The vaccine was extremely good at protecting people from infection, and was given to people around the world, so that in 1979 smallpox was officially declared to be extinct. This is an amazing example of how powerful vaccines and antibodies can be in protecting us against infection.

I also discovered a YouTube presentation that you may find useful:

Please remember: WEAR YOUR MASK and exercise SOCIAL DISTANCING, and WASH YOUR HANDS.

I hope you found this of interest. Thank you for getting through to the end, yours, RAY BOAS, Publisher, THE WALPOLE CLARION.


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Just when the Flamingoes were feeling safe and comfortable here in Walpole, a predator, and threat to their well-being, has found them, and found them tasty. BEWARE

Image (but not dino) captured by Elisabeth Roos

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This morning, Sunday 28 June, Walpole’s Health Officer, Dr. Chuck Shaw, shared that the first Covid-19 case has been reported in Walpole. No further details have been shared.

The facts for your safety are clear, and not to be disputed. WEAR YOUR MASK – SOCIAL DISTANCE – WASH YOUR HANDS. Your life, everyone’s life depends on these simple actions. Stay safe, and be well. Yours, Ray Boas, Publisher

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The July twenty page issue of the CLARION is now on-line. The content of the June and July issues, of necessity, shifted from relating past events, and highlighting upcoming events. With COVID-19, events have been cancelled, thus nothing to report to you. However, in both the June and July issues, I was pleased to bring to the CLARION’s pages a number of feature articles/pieces to inform and entertain you. June included articles on: Walpole water; a welcome parade; Kiniry’s Barn; and, Abingdon Spares. The July issue, sadly, has articles relating to the murder of George Floyd, and Walpole’s response. August (and possibly the rest of 2020) could also lack past and future news events. So if you have an idea of something you would like to read about in the CLARION, send me your idea. Or, better yet, send an article for publication consideration.


Feel free to share this post and issue with friends, neighbors, and out of town family and friends. THE WALPOLE CLARION is also on Facebook, and updates occasionally posted, so “Like Us” there. And, I encourage all to sign up on the CLARION website to receive post updates. In addition, I encourage you to visit The Walpolean.org and sign up there also for emails with area information.

Thank you, stay home or keep a “social distance” and be well, yours, RAY BOAS, Publisher

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The CLARION is a monthly, but for almost daily news of Walpole, North Walpole and Drewsville, there is an on-line “blog” – The Walpolean. You have seen it mentioned on the CLARION’s pages, and I have encouraged you to sign up. Last evening I chatted (from a distance) with Lil who handles this additional community service. Since the June CLARION was received she got some new subscribers, but I said to her, “let me do a post and then share that on Facebook. So, click below on the URL or image, visit THE WALPOLEAN, and  “sign up” to receive posts for the entire Walpole community. Thank you, RAY


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The June issue of the CLARION is now on-line, and again twenty four pages, in spite of the lack of past events to report on, and lack of events in June. Sadly, Old Home Days, which we would have been enjoying the end of the month, was rescheduled to 2021.

But, on this month’s pages are some fun articles for you to enjoy (I hope).


Feel free to share this post and issue with friends, neighbors, and out of town family and friends. THE WALPOLE CLARION is also on Facebook, and updates occasionally posted, so “Like Us” there. And, I encourage all to sign up on the CLARION website to receive post updates. In addition, I encourage you to visit The Walpolean.org and sign up there also for emails with area information.

Thank you, stay home or keep a “social distance” and be well, yours, RAY BOAS, Publisher

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I had a goal today, and I achieved that goal. I needed to get out and find more flamingos to share, and bring that number to a hundred. As you settle down this evening you may enjoy taking a look at


by just clicking on the link above.

Share this link for others to smile and enjoy, and if you see more of our friends as they are bringing joy and hope in these difficult times, send your pictures along. As always, yours, RAY

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double what was documented yesterday — some great scenes, and  you can check them all out by visiting this page on the CLARION website.


among those recently seen is this loving pair on North Road.

FLAMINGOS IN LOVE ON NORTH ROAD – photo by Eric Merklein

Please share this post, visit the Flamingo page, and smile. And if you have a sighting, take a picture are send it along to me at the CLARION to share, thank you, RAY

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Do you have Flamingo visitors? Your neighbors have shared the sightings in their yards, and I now have over 30 documented birds on the CLARION website for you to see by clicking on this link.

Please look at the page, and make a note of how you can share the birds in your yard with the world. These pink friends have brought us some smiles in these troubling times. Looking forward to hearing from you, yours, RAY

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The invasion continues, and continues to bring hopes and smiles to residents from one end of town to the other. South to North, and East to West. I received an email earlier today from Charles Caserta, saying, “HI Ray…..they’re playing in the pond at entrance to Walpole Valley Farms !!” I had to see them.

So, I “broke the rules” and left my home with BLUE BELLE (1960 MGA for those of you who don’t know), and toured the hills and back roads to Surry and back, circling down Wentworth Road to see the “new” pink feathered friends. And, here they are enjoying the pond life.

And, then it occurred to me. Many people have said the “pink plaque” has flocked their way also. “Why not set up a page on the CLARION website, and share everyone’s pink visitors,” Ray said to Ray. So, I am asking, no pleading, that you share your Flamingo images, and I will begin sharing them with the world on-line.

Take a nice shot, and email it to me at rayboas@comcast.net  — I am sure there are many out there, lets capture (in picture) as many as we can to share with the world. I look forward to receiving your precious pink portraits soon. Thank you, and stay safe, yours, RAY

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