Missing the Forest for the Trees re. COVID-19?

Blog Post by Ronald Kostoff, PhD.


We are looking at the trees, and missing the forest, with respect to COVID-19. Let’s focus on the quarantine. It is being implemented more widely in the USA, and in much of the world as well. Those affected most severely by SARS-CoV-2 typically develop pneumonia, and die from pneumonia. That’s the official version, but it’s far more nuanced and complicated. Some background, first.


I have developed protocols for preventing and reversing chronic diseases, and have applied them to three chronic diseases (CKD, AD, PN/PAD) [1]. The central step of the protocol is identifying the foundational contributing factors to the diseases (i.e., the causes), and eliminating those foundational causes. I use the qualifier ‘foundational’, since the causes I identify are not other diseases (which much of the medical community uses in part when talking about causes), but rather tangible items that are (in theory) under our control (e.g., smoking, excess alcohol, brominated flame retardants, heavy metals, pesticides, wireless radiation, etc).


For the three chronic diseases I have examined, I have identified anywhere from 500-1000 foundational causes each. Many of these foundational causes (such as those listed above) are pervasive, meaning that they impact multiple diseases. I would expect that pneumonia (the fatal consequence of the present [and SARS-CoV] coronavirus infection) would also have hundreds of foundational causes as well. This is a key point of my argument.


I also studied the SARS coronavirus pandemic of 2002-2003, and published a couple of papers on the topic [2,3]. My key takeaway from those studies was that there were three types of consequences for the people who were exposed to the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV). One group exhibited no symptoms, and the only measure of exposure was SARS coronavirus antibodies in their blood (tested for other reasons). The second group exhibited symptoms characteristic of respiratory infections, and recovered after some level of discomfort. There were about 8,000 people globally who exhibited these symptoms, and went for medical care. The third group mainly developed pneumonia, and died from the pneumonia. There were about 800 people globally in this latter group. However, this latter group was not a random selection of the 8,000. Its members had high co-morbidity, weakened immune systems, and tended to be heavily populated by the elderly.


Co-morbidity in common usage is typically used to mean other diseases. From my perspective, each of these diseases is a proxy for the hundreds of foundational factors that contribute to its development. Thus, if we switch co-ordinate systems from diseases to foundational contributing factors, we could then state the third group that succumbed to SARS had high numbers of foundational contributing factors to disease. This is the key point.


In the current COVID-19 pandemic, we see some commonalities with what happened in the SARS pandemic. Most of the deaths in both cases resulted from pneumonia. Most of the deaths are among the elderly, and appear to be most prevalent among those with high co-morbidities and weakened immune systems. Switching co-ordinate systems in our description, most of the fatalities are among those exposed (over their lifetime, as well as currently) to large numbers of contributing factors to disease.


In general, the public is being exposed to a mixture of toxic stimuli, and it is the effect of the mixture that is driving the myriad consequences. Different people will be exposed to different mixtures, and, based on the composition of the mixtures and a person’s genetic makeup, will respond differently. There can be substantial synergies among the mixture constituents, resulting in enhanced adverse effects from the combination [4, 5]. The key concept here is that the mixture is determining the outcome, not necessarily any one of its constituents in isolation.


Now we get to the quarantine. The response of the governments worldwide (including the USA) to COVID-19 has been to restrict exposure to one of the many constituents of the toxic stimuli mixture, SARS-CoV-2. This is one of the few constituents of the mixture that cannot be ascribed to a technology offshoot, or to a technology that has corporate backing (like pesticides, industrial chemical, radiation sources, etc). The present quarantine eliminates only one of the many constituents of the mixture, and it is the component that does not have strong corporate/lobbying backing!


Why are not any of the other constituents of the mixture being placed under quarantine? Why is not smoking, or air pollution, or excess alcohol, or wireless radiation, or agrochemicals, or industrial chemicals, being placed under quarantine? The fatalities supposedly from SARS-CoV-2 have resulted in limited mortalities globally so far, relative to those typically ascribed to the influenza flu virus. The fatalities that can be ascribed to some (perhaps most) other constituents of the mixture are far greater globally, when all their adverse effects are integrated. It is clear from the SARS results (and probably the present COVID-19 results) that exposure to the coronavirus (for the most part) results in no outward symptoms or mild symptoms, in the absence of large numbers of other toxic stimuli. It’s not clear the same statement could be made about many of the other components of the toxic stimuli mixture that are spinoffs of modern technology.


The point is we have bought into the mindset and propaganda of the developers and vendors of these other toxic stimuli that the one constituent of the mixture without a strong lobbying group is the dangerous constituent, and the required approach for protection is quarantine from that one constituent. I would argue that the more protective quarantine, for the current pandemic and against future pandemics, would be to impose quarantines against the intrinsically toxic constituents of the mixture. Whether they would have the same very-short-term benefits as the coronavirus quarantine is questionable, but from the long-term perspective, the broader quarantine would be very protective against future viral attacks, including the annual influenza infections.


Sometimes analogies can be instructive. Consider the following. We have this big house in the desert, and we have neglected the roof for thirty years. Ten large holes have opened up on the roof, and we have delayed their repair. One day, an unexpected massive rainstorm arrives. Water comes pouring through the holes in the roof. We send out an emergency request for help. First responders, neighbors, etc, come to our aid and spend the day with buckets and pumps bailing out the water. They leave, we have survived, but we then do absolutely nothing to repair the holes in the roof. Three years later, another rainstorm, another panic response. Was the rain the cause; was it the holes in the roof; was it both? Would we have worried about the rain if there were no holes in the roof?


It is obvious from this analogy that, to be fully protective, we need both tactical reactive responses to survive the immediate threat and strategic proactive responses to prevent the problem and damage from re-occurring. Toward that end, I have recently published a document on identifying tactical and strategic treatments for COVID-19 [6]. It is Open Access.



[1] Kostoff RN. Prevention and reversal of chronic disease: lessons learned. Georgia Institute of Technology. 2019. PDF. http://hdl.handle.net/1853/62019
[2] Kostoff RN. “Literature-Related Discovery: Potential treatments and preventatives for SARS”. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. 78:7. 1164-1173. 2011.
[3] Kostoff RN. “The highly cited SARS research literature”. Critical Reviews in Microbiology. 36:4. 299-317. 2010.
[4] Kostoff RN, Goumenou M, Tsatsakis A. The role of toxic stimuli combinations in determining safe exposure limits. Toxicology Reports. 2018; 5; 1169-1172.
[5] Kostoff RN, Heroux P, Aschner M, Tsatsakis A. Adverse health effects of 5G mobile networking technology under real-life conditions. Toxicology Letters (2020). doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.toxlet.2020.01.020
[6] Kostoff RN. Combining Tactical and Strategic Treatments for COVID-19. Georgia Institute of Technology. 2020. PDF. http://hdl.handle.net/1853/62523
Access at: https://smartech.gatech.edu/handle/1853/62523
(Click link or enter into browser)




Ronald Neil Kostoff received a Ph. D. in Aerospace and Mechanical Sciences from Princeton University in 1967. He has worked for Bell Laboratories, Department of Energy, Office of Naval Research, and MITRE Corp. He invented the Wake Shield for producing high vacuum in low orbit, and used in manned space missions for research and development. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, served as Guest Editor of four journal Special Issues since 1994, obtained two text mining system patents, and presently is a Research Affiliate at Georgia Institute of Technology.


He has published on numerous medical topics in the peer-reviewed literature, including:
• potential treatments for
– Multiple Sclerosis,
– Parkinson’s Disease,
– Raynaud’s Phenomenon,
– Cataracts,
– Vitreous Restoration,
– Peripheral Neuropathy/Peripheral Arterial Disease
– Alzheimer’s Disease, and
– Chronic Kidney Disease;
• potential causes of Chronic Kidney Disease;
• potential causes of Alzheimer’s Disease;
• potential causes of Peripheral Neuropathy/Peripheral Arterial Disease
• potential impacts of Electromagnetic Fields on health; and
• synergistic effects of toxic stimuli combinations.


His recent publications in toxicology have shown that regulatory exposure limits to toxic stimuli are, on average, orders of magnitude too high compared to exposures shown to cause damage in the biomedical literature, and are not protecting the public from harmful substances.


He is listed in:
• Who’s Who in America, 60th Edition (2006),
• Who’s Who in Science and Engineering, 9th Edition (2006), and
• 2000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 21st Century, 4th Edition, (2006).

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