What’s the difference between viruses and bacteria?

You may notice I decided not to use that picture of the coronavirus that’s absolutely everywhere these days.  Frankly, I’m tired of looking at it.  It looks like a really dirty disco ball with giant push pins in it.

So we hear about viruses and we hear about bacteria.  But what are these things really?

Well, considering how much coronavirus information is ladled out every day, it’s easy to become confused. While everyone knows germs are bad, is a germ the same thing as a virus? And if a virus and bacteria are two different things, why do we used anti-bacterial soap to kill the coronavirus?

For starters, “germ” is a generic term that covers all types of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, so people are correct in thinking germs are bad, kind of.  Not all bacteria are bad — certain types help with digestion, while others cause infections.  Viruses, on the other hand, are parasitic and invade a person’s cells before spreading throughout the body.

I used to think that bacteria were animals, but I looked it up and found out that wasn’t true.  They’re neither animals nor plants, but their own kind of one-celled thing.  But unlike viruses, they are considered alive!  That’s right, viruses are not considered living by most scientists because they don’t grow and they can’t make their own energy.  They just make more of themselves — constantly.  They’re more like evil robots than living things!

But anyway, because they’re not bacterial, antibiotics have no effect on any kind of virus.  So while people continue clearing store shelves of antibacterial soaps, the truth is that regular hand soap is just as effective in preventing COVID-19 as antibacterial soap. Washing your hands with any type of soap will flush away the coronavirus, medical experts say.

So keep washing those hands and feel free to use any kind of fru-fru soap you’d like!