Viruses: Can they be helpful?

They’re everywhere. And there are a lot of them. And yes, they can be dangerous. Viruses are ingenious survivors, as old as life itself. They have played a key role in evolution – including the evolution of human beings.

“Viruses are the rulers of the world, and now they’re showing us who’s calling the shots,” says renowned virologist Karin Mölling in this film – a fascinating journey into the “virosphere”.

Marine biologists explain the role viruses play as key protectors of the world’s coral reefs. Within the human organism, researchers have only just discovered the importance of viral colonies in the digestive tract. A particular therapy administered in Georgia for more than a century involves the use of viruses or phages to cure severe bacterial infections.

And that’s not all – viruses were very probably there at the start of all life. Around 50 percent of our DNA comes from viruses. Key features of the human genome such as long-term memory and embryonic pregnancy were formed by an ancient virus.

But viruses can also become dangerous, particularly when we humans alter animals’ natural habitats and destroy biodiversity. This is the lesson to be learned from the history of epidemics, from the measles to AIDS to Ebola and Covid-19. If future pandemics are to be prevented, there’s a delicate balance to be maintained – between the humans and the world of viruses.

Documentary thanks to DW Documentary

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