The COVID-19 pandemic has focused on a singular target — SARS-CoV-2 — and how to neutralize it using an injection. But the issue of viral illness is so much larger than a single virus or one pandemic. Humans and viruses coexist. It’s a daily reality that you’ll be exposed to one or more of them, but not everyone will get sick.
What determines how you fare when exposed to any given virus is a complex mix of genetics and toxic stressors that degrade your immune system. Those “toxic stressor exposures,” which can be chemical, physical, biological or psychological in nature, hinder your immune system’s ability to fight off viruses,1 and they deserve greater recognition in the fight against COVID-19 and future pandemics.
As noted by a team of researchers in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, the role of toxic substance exposures is under-reported in the COVID-19 pandemic:2
“Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and previous pandemics have been viewed almost exclusively as virology problems, with toxicology problems mostly being ignored.
This perspective is not supported by the evolution of COVID-19, where the impact of real-life exposures to multiple toxic stressors degrading the immune system is followed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus exploiting the degraded immune system to trigger a chain of events ultimately leading to COVID-19.”
Viruses Won’t Be Going Away
The notion of injecting our way out of viral illness ignores the crucial fact that viruses are all around us, and it’s impossible to develop an injection for every one that’s dangerous. Currently, there are about 263 viruses from 25 viral families known to infect humans.3 But this is just the tip of the iceberg. More than 1,100 viruses have been identified in animals and humans, but even this doesn’t give the full picture of how many viruses are circulating around us.
The Global Virome Project revealed that about 1.67 million viral species may have yet to be discovered in mammals and birds, and up to 827,000 of them have zoonotic potential, meaning they’re capable of being transmitted from animals to humans.4 It should be noted that viruses aren’t all bad.
Some of them may offer beneficial effects, like helping to regulate gut microbiota and to protect against noninfectious diseases. Further, the very exposure to viruses is a necessary evil, one that primes, maintains and strengthens your optimal immune response:5
“The mammalian virome includes diverse commensal and pathogenic viruses that evoke a broad range of immune responses from the host. A subset of the virome (in particular, zoonotic viruses that appear to be pathogenic in humans) challenges the immune system continually.
This process appears to be a dual-edged sword. Healthy immune systems respond optimally to viral challenges and are further strengthened by the continual challenges, offering additional protection against other viral challenges.”
Chronic Conditions Linked to COVID-19 Severity, Death
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only about 5% of COVID-19 deaths list only COVID-19 on the death certificate.6 The other 95% have other comorbidities and underlying conditions that contributed to the death, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer or diabetes.
Many of these underlying conditions that increase the risk of severe COVID-19 and death are caused by toxic exposures, such as poor diet, environmental chemicals, inactivity and stress.
“In short, it is the pervasive, constant exposure to toxic stressors in our environment, in combination with genetic factors, that cause us to develop diseases that impair our immune systems and make us susceptible to serious COVID-19 infection,” reported the Alliance for Natural Health. As the researchers noted, this includes factors such as:7
- Lifestyle — This includes physical inactivity, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet including ultraprocessed foods and refined grains and chronic sleep deprivation.
- Pharmaceuticals and other iatrogenic causes — Among adults 65 and older, 54% take four or more prescription drugs.8,9 Immunosuppressants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, surgical stress, anesthesia, antidepressants, antibiotics, nanomedicine products, adjuvanted vaccines and ionizing radiation therapy can all degrade the immune system.
- Biotoxins and biomaterials — These refer to mold including aflatoxin, as well as viruses and bacteria.
- Occupational and environmental exposures — This type of exposure can include endocrine disrupting chemicals, microplastics, heavy metals, pesticides, air pollution, radiation, cell phones and Wi-Fi, heavy metals, PFAS, fine particulate matter, disinfection byproducts and more.
- Psychosocial and socioeconomic factors — From depression to chronic stress, social isolation, stressful life events and childhood adversity, these issues can also contribute to poor health.
For instance, researchers from the Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna in Italy analyzed 482 COVID-19 patients hospitalized between March 1, 2020, and April 20, 2020.10 “Obesity is a strong, independent risk factor for respiratory failure, admission to the ICU and death among COVID-19 patients,” they wrote, and the extent of risk was tied to a person’s level of obesity.
Even patients with mild obesity had a 2.5 times greater risk of respiratory failure and a five times greater risk of being admitted to an ICU compared to non-obese patients. Those with a BMI of 35 and over — moderate or severe obesity — were also 12 times more likely to die from COVID-19.11
Also, as with many viral infections, COVID-19 appears to have a nutritional component, by which you may lower your risk of severe outcomes by using vitamins and minerals therapeutically, but nutrient deficiencies continue to be ignored as official risk factors for COVID-19. COVID-19 patients given a combination of vitamin D, magnesium and vitamin B12, for instance, were significantly less likely to require oxygen therapy or ICU care compared to patients who did not.12
Focusing Only on Virology Misses the Importance of Toxicology
The COVID-19 pandemic response has focused on short-term emergency measures like quarantines, lockdowns and injections, which do nothing to address the long-term outlook for helping humans fight pathogenic viral diseases. Strategies that focus on boosting the immune system, however, are inexpensive, numerous and readily available, and could save lives now and in future pandemics:13
“There are strong misconceptions about the role played by SARS-CoV-2 in the emergence of COVID-19, especially the severity of COVID-19 in selected demographic groups. These misconceptions result in treatments focused on virology without any consideration of toxicology: containing/attenuating SARS-CoV-2 exposure/viral loads rather than intrinsically strengthening the immune system.
These virology-based actions do not address the underlying toxicology-based problems that must be addressed properly in order to decrease human vulnerability to infectious diseases, including COVID-19.”
Infectious diseases like COVID-19, SARS and influenza have a lot in common, including that only a small fraction who are exposed develop symptoms and, of them, an even smaller percentage die from the infection, often due to pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome.14
Those most likely to die from these infectious diseases include the elderly with underlying conditions. Having a comorbidity such as heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer, obesity or diabetes is a more reliable indicator of impaired immunity than even chronological age among older adults, the Food and Chemical Toxicology researchers explained.
Toxic stressor exposures contribute not only to these underlying conditions but also to metabolic stress and, with chronic conditions often comes elevated baseline inflammation, which further increases the risk of dying when exposed to a virus like SARS-CoV-2. All of these factors add up to increased vulnerability to infectious disease — vulnerability that likely could be prevented:15
“The most severe consequences from COVID-19 and influenza stem from a degraded/dysfunctional immune system, and the exploitation of the degraded immune system by the virus. For a healthy immune system, the virus would be unable to overcome its strong defenses, and would be neutralized.”
The Public Should ‘Quarantine’ From Toxic Stressors
The study used a hypothetical scenario that it would take exposure to four hazardous elements during the COVID-19 pandemic to result in fatal pneumonia. These might be pesticides, poor diet, wireless radiation and SARS-CoV-2. “Assume that any combination of three of the four hazardous elements would not be sufficient to result in pneumonia, and would result in no symptoms,” they noted.16
Yet, public health officials targeted only one potential hazard, SARS-CoV-2, ignoring the myriad other toxic stressors that, together, have a much greater presence and impact on public health. “The key concept here is that the virus-toxic stressors combination nexus is determining the ultimate health outcome, not necessarily any one of the constituents in isolation,” they said.17
The reason that SARS-CoV-2 was singled out as the only toxic stressor to target, according to the study, has to do with political and financial reasons, not scientific ones, protecting major production and consumption stakeholders like the pharmaceutical industry, food industry and biotech industry.
In order to protect the public, however, a “quarantine” from the toxins listed above — ultraprocessed foods, environmental chemicals, wireless radiation and much more — would be far more effective than quarantining from one virus:18
“Assigning responsibility for the pandemic to Mother Nature rather than to those who bear the major responsibility for laying the pandemic groundwork ensures that these harmful practices and their associated pandemics (including the annual deaths of the most vulnerable demographic related to the so-called influenza epidemics/pandemics) will continue unabated.
Why are not any of the other constituents of the virus-toxic stressors combination nexus being placed under effective ‘quarantine’ from the public? Why are not smoking, or air pollution, or excess alcohol, or wireless radiation, or agrochemicals, or industrial chemicals, being placed under quarantine?
There is no lack of evidence of linkages between these environmental pollutants and immune-related diseases.”
Rather than waiting for “official” advice to make common sense, positive changes in your life that will bolster your immune response, let this be your motivation. The more you avoid toxic exposures like unhealthy food, chemicals, unnecessary pharmaceuticals, social isolation, inactivity and pesticides, the better your immune system will function, and the healthier you’ll be in the event of any viral exposure that may come your way.
For long-term pandemic prevention, the researchers believe, and I would strongly agree, that toxicology-based approaches should be given priority over virology-based approaches. They added:19
“Since current COVID-19 treatments globally ignore the toxicology component almost completely, only limited benefits can be expected from these treatments.
… A more protective quarantine (for the current pandemic and against future pandemics) would be to impose effective ‘quarantines’ for the public against the intrinsically toxic constituents of the virus-toxic stressors combination nexus (e.g., pesticides, PFOS, PCBs, nerve agents, wireless radiation, etc.).
… If such a strategy had been followed consistently in the past, it could have prevented/minimized the incidence and outcome of COVID-19.”