The underlying cause of our vulnerability to viral infection, from the coronavirus and beyond.
“The response of governments worldwide to COVID-19 has been virology-based, disregarding toxicological issues.” This is a key pullout from a new paper that should change the narrative around the COVID-19 pandemic. It argues that if we want to find the real culprit behind the pandemic, we must look beyond the coronavirus to the various factors that degrade our immune systems, which greatly increases the risk of dying or having serious complications from the virus. Strategies that target the virus—quarantine, repurposing old drugs, vaccines, etc.—address the most visible outcomes of the pandemic, but not the underlying causes that make many of us vulnerable to infection in the first place.
We know that the vast majority of deaths from COVID-19 are among the elderly with comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, immune compromised status, cancer and obesity. According to the CDC, there were comorbidities or other conditions listed on the death certificates of as many as 95 percent of all COVID-19 deaths. These chronic diseases have been linked to what the study authors call “toxic stressor exposures” (chemical, physical, biological, or psychological stressors) that inhibit the immune system’s ability to deal with viruses.
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. These factors include:
- Lifestyle: lack of exercise, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor diet of processed foods, sugar, and refined grains, and sleep deprivation;
- Pharmaceutical drugs: More than half of adults 65 and older (54%) report taking four or more prescription drugs;
- Biotoxins like mold, viruses, and bacteria;
- Environmental exposures to things like endocrine disruptors, radiation and Wi-Fi, heavy metals, PFAS, fine particulate matter, and many others;
- Psychosocial factors like depression and stress.
For each of us, the combination of these factors, in addition to our genetic makeup, helps determine our susceptibility to a virus like COVID-19. Yet our response to the pandemic has been to focus on a single factor, that is, the virus itself: fighting it with drugs and vaccines or avoiding it with quarantines and isolation.
This thinking ignores those companies who profit off of our poor health. It’s the chemical companies pumping out endocrine disruptors, PFAS chemicals, and pesticides; it’s Big Food creating the processed, sugar-laden junk; it’s Big Pharma peddling ever more dangerous, often ineffective prescription drugs. It’s these mega-corporations that are making us sick and susceptible to COVID-19. Consider the extent of the damage. The US is one of the least healthy nations in the world. Almost 43% of Americans over age 20 are obese, which is among the highest in the world. The US leads developed nations in type 2 diabetes; has the third highest mortality rate for circulatory diseases like high blood pressure; and is second highest in mortality rate for heart attacks.
The chart below shows a correlation between the development and use of pollutants and the rise in chronic diseases:
We’ve pointed out previously that the response to the pandemic has almost completely ignored prevention and building immune resilience. The $1.9 trillion COVID relief package, for example, lacked any acknowledgement or attempt to address COVID using nutritional strategies that are well supported by the science. According to the government’s own figures, millions of Americans are deficient in a variety of key nutrients. Research shows that micronutrient inadequacies may impact long-term health, increasing risk for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and yes, COVID.
This is not to say that we should ignore the virus itself, or that vaccines and drugs to prevent and treat COVID-19 are useless. But these are short term solutions. As the authors note, “To be fully protected in the present pandemic and against future pandemics, both tactical/reactive responses to survive the immediate threat and strategic/proactive responses to prevent the problem and damage from re-occurring are required.” The fact that there are an estimated 1.67 million viral species yet to be discovered, with 631,000-827,0000 of them having zoonotic potential (a disease transmitted from animals to humans), underscores the pressing need to address the underlying causes of our vulnerability to these diseases.
This is what natural medicine is all about: addressing root causes rather than surface manifestations. We must keep this in mind and fight for our ability to use natural therapies to stay healthy, naturally.