Background and Aim:
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) public health policy has focused on the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus and its effects on human health while environmental factors have been largely ignored. In considering the epidemiological triad (agent-host-environment) applicable to all disease, we investigated a possible environmental factor in the COVID-19 pandemic: ambient radiofrequency radiation from wireless communication systems including microwaves and millimeter waves. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic, surfaced in Wuhan, China shortly after the implementation of city-wide (fifth generation [5G] of wireless communications radiation [WCR]), and rapidly spread globally, initially demonstrating a statistical correlation to international communities with recently established 5G networks. In this study, we examined the peer-reviewed scientific literature on the detrimental bioeffects of WCR and identified several mechanisms by which WCR may have contributed to the COVID-19 pandemic as a toxic environmental cofactor. By crossing boundaries between the disciplines of biophysics and pathophysiology, we present evidence that WCR may: (1) cause morphologic changes in erythrocytes including echinocyte and rouleaux formation that can contribute to hypercoagulation; (2) impair microcirculation and reduce erythrocyte and hemoglobin levels exacerbating hypoxia; (3) amplify immune system dysfunction, including immunosuppression, autoimmunity, and hyperinflammation; (4) increase cellular oxidative stress and the production of free radicals resulting in vascular injury and organ damage; (5) increase intracellular Ca2+ essential for viral entry, replication, and release, in addition to promoting pro-inflammatory pathways; and (6) worsen heart arrhythmias and cardiac disorders.
Epidemiologists, including those at the CDC, consider multiple causal factors when evaluating the virulence of an agent and understanding its ability to spread and cause disease. Most importantly, these variables include environmental cofactors and the health status of the host. Evidence from the literature summarized here suggests a possible connection between several adverse health effects of WCR exposure and the clinical course of COVID-19 in that WCR may have worsened the COVID-19 pandemic by weakening the host and exacerbating COVID-19 disease. However, none of the observations discussed here prove this linkage. Specifically, the evidence does not confirm causation. Clearly COVID-19 occurs in regions with little wireless communication. Furthermore, the relative morbidity caused by WCR exposure in COVID-19 is unknown.
We recognize that many factors have influenced the pandemic’s course. Before restrictions were imposed, travel patterns facilitated the seeding of the virus, causing early rapid global spread. Population density, higher mean population age, and socioeconomic factors certainly influenced early viral spread. Air pollution, especially particulate matter PM2.5 (2.5 micro-particulates), likely increased symptoms in patients with COVID-19 lung disease .
We postulate that WCR possibly contributed to the early spread and severity of COVID-19. Once an agent becomes established in a community, its virulence increases . This premise can be applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. We surmise that “hot spots” of the disease that initially spread around the world were perhaps seeded by air travel, which in some areas were associated with 5G implementation. However, once the disease became established in those communities, it was able to spread more easily to neighboring regions where populations were less exposed to WCR. Second and third waves of the pandemic disseminated widely throughout communities with and without WCR, as might be expected.
The COVID-19 pandemic has offered us an opportunity to delve further into the potential adverse effects of WCR exposure on human health. Human exposure to ambient WCR significantly increased in 2020 as a “side effect” to the pandemic. Stay-at-home measures designed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 inadvertently resulted in greater public exposure to WCR, as people conducted more business and school related activities through wireless communications. Telemedicine created another source of WCR exposure. Even hospital inpatients, particular ICU patients, experienced increased WCR exposure as new monitoring devices utilized wireless communication systems that may exacerbate health disorders. It would potentially provide valuable information to measure ambient WCR power densities in home and work environments when comparing disease severity in patient populations with similar risk factors.
The question of causation could be investigated in future studies. For example, a clinical study could be conducted in COVID-19 patient populations with similar risk factors, to measure the WCR daily dose in COVID-19 patients and look for a correlation with disease severity and progression over time. As wireless device carrier frequencies and modulations may differ, and the power densities of WCR fluctuate constantly at a given location, this study would require patients to wear personal microwave dosimeters (monitoring badges). In addition, controlled laboratory studies could be conducted on animals, for example, humanized mice infected with SARS-CoV-2, in which groups of animals exposed to minimal WCR (control group) as well as medium and high power densities of WCR could be compared for disease severity and progression.
A major strength of this paper is that the evidence rests on a large body of scientific literature reported by many scientists worldwide and over several decades–experimental evidence of adverse bioeffects of WCR exposure at nonthermal levels on humans, animals, and cells. The Bioinitiative Report , updated in 2020, summarizes hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers documenting evidence of nonthermal effects from exposures ≤1 mW/cm2. Even so, some laboratory studies on the adverse health effects of WCR have sometimes utilized power densities exceeding 1mW/cm2. In this paper, almost all of the studies that we reviewed included experimental data at power densities ≤1 mW/cm2.
A potential criticism of this paper is that adverse bioeffects from nonthermal exposures are not yet universally accepted in science. Moreover, they are not yet considered in establishing public health policy in many nations. Decades ago, Russians and Eastern Europeans compiled considerable data on nonthermal bioeffects, and subsequently set guidelines at lower radiofrequency radiation exposure limits than the US and Canada, that is, below levels where nonthermal effects are observed. However, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, a US government entity) and ICNIRP guidelines operate on thermal limits based on outdated data from decades ago, allowing the public to be exposed to considerably higher radiofrequency radiation power densities. Regarding 5G, the telecommunication industry claims that it is safe because it complies with current radiofrequency radiation exposure guidelines of the FCC and ICNIRP. These guidelines were established in 1996 , are antiquated, and are not safety standards. Thus, there are no universally accepted safety standards for wireless communication radiation exposure. Recently international bodies, such as the EMF Working Group of the European Academy of Environmental Medicine, have proposed much lower guidelines, taking into account nonthermal bioeffects from WCR exposure in multiple sources .
Another weakness of this paper is that some of the bioeffects from WCR exposure are inconsistently reported in the literature. Replicated studies are often not true replications. Small differences in method, including unreported details, such as prior history of exposure of the organisms, non-uniform body exposure, and other variables can lead to inadvertent inconsistency. Moreover, not surprisingly, industry-sponsored studies tend to show less adverse bioeffects than studies conducted by independent researchers, suggesting industry bias . Some experimental studies that are not industry-sponsored have also shown no evidence of harmful effects of WCR exposure. It is noteworthy, however, that studies employing real-life WCR exposures from commercially available devices have shown high consistency in revealing adverse effects .
WCR bioeffects depend on specific values of wave parameters including frequency, power density, polarization, exposure duration, modulation characteristics, as well as the cumulative history of exposure and background levels of electromagnetic, electric and magnetic fields. In laboratory studies, bioeffects observed also depend on genetic parameters and physiological parameters such as oxygen concentration . The reproducibility of bioeffects of WCR exposure has sometimes been difficult due to failure to report and/or control all of these parameters. Similar to ionizing radiation, the bioeffects of WCR exposure can be subdivided into deterministic, that is, dose-dependent effects and stochastic effects that are seemingly random. Importantly, WCR bioeffects can also involve “response windows” of specific parameters whereby extremely low-level fields can have disproportionally detrimental effects . This nonlinearity of WCR bioeffects can result in biphasic responses such as immune suppression from one range of parameters, and immune hyperactivation from another range of parameters, leading to variations that may appear inconsistent.
In gathering reports and examining existing data for this paper, we looked for outcomes providing evidence to support a proposed connection between the bioeffects of WCR exposure and COVID-19. We did not make an attempt to weigh the evidence. The radiofrequency radiation exposure literature is extensive and currently contains over 30,000 research reports dating back several decades. Inconsistencies in nomenclature, reporting of details, and cataloging of keywords make it difficult to navigate this enormous literature.
Another shortcoming of this paper is that we do not have access to experimental data on 5G exposures. In fact, little is known about population exposure from real-world WCR, which includes exposure to WCR infrastructure and the plethora of WCR emitting devices. In relation to this, it is difficult to accurately quantify the average power density at a given location, which varies greatly, depending on the time, specific location, time-averaging interval, frequency, and modulation scheme. For a specific municipality it depends on the antenna density, which network protocols are used, as, for example, 2G, 3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi, WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access), DECT (Digitally Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications), and RADAR (Radio Detection and Ranging). There is also WCR from ubiquitous radio wave transmitters, including antennas, base stations, smart meters, mobile phones, routers, satellites, and other wireless devices currently in use. All of these signals superimpose to yield the total average power density at a given location that typically fluctuates greatly over time. No experimental studies on adverse health effects or safety issues of 5G have been reported, and none are currently planned by the industry, although this is sorely needed.
Finally, there is an inherent complexity to WCR that makes it very difficult to fully characterize wireless signals in the real world that may be associated with adverse bioeffects. Real world digital communication signals, even from single wireless devices, have highly variable signals: variable power density, frequency, modulation, phase, and other parameters changing constantly and unpredictably each moment, as associated with the short, rapid pulsations used in digital wireless communication . For example, in using a mobile phone during a typical phone conversation, the intensity of emitted radiation varies significantly each moment depending on signal reception, number of subscribers sharing the frequency band, location within the wireless infrastructure, presence of objects and metallic surfaces, and “speaking” versus “non-speaking” mode, among others. Such variations may reach 100% of the average signal intensity. The carrier radiofrequency constantly changes between different values within the available frequency band. The greater the amount of information (text, speech, internet, video, etc.), the more complex the communication signals become. Therefore, we cannot estimate accurately the values of these signal parameters including ELF components or predict their variability over time. Thus, studies on the bioeffects of WCR in the laboratory can only be representative of real-world exposures .
This paper points to the need for further research on nonthermal WCR exposure and its potential role in COVID-19. Moreover, some of the WCR exposure bioeffects that we discuss here — oxidative stress, inflammation, and immune system disruption — are common to many chronic diseases, including autoimmune disease and diabetes. Thus, we hypothesize that WCR exposure may also be a potential contributing factor in many chronic diseases.
When a course of action raises threats of harm to human health, precautionary measures should be taken, even if clear causal relationships are not yet fully established. Therefore, we must apply the Precautionary Principle  regarding wireless 5G. The authors urge policymakers to execute an immediate worldwide moratorium on wireless 5G infrastructure until its safety can be assured.
Several unresolved safety issues should be addressed before wireless 5G is further implemented. Questions have been raised about 60 GHz, a key 5G frequency planned for extensive use, which is a resonant frequency of the oxygen molecule . It is possible that adverse bioeffects might ensue from oxygen absorption of 60 GHz. In addition, water shows broad absorption in the GHz spectral region along with resonance peaks, for example, strong absorption at 2.45 GHz that is used in 4G Wi-Fi routers. This raises safety issues about GHz exposure of the biosphere, since organisms are comprised of mostly water, and changes in the structure of water due to GHz absorption have been reported that affect organisms . Bioeffects from prolonged WCR exposure of the whole body need to be investigated in animal and human studies, and long-term exposure guidelines need to be considered. Independent scientists in particular should conduct concerted research to determine the biological effects of real-world exposure to WCR frequencies with digital modulation from the multiplicity of wireless communication devices. Testing could also include real-life exposures to multiple toxins (chemical and biological) , because multiple toxins may lead to synergistic effects. Environmental impact assessments are also needed. Once the long-term biological effects of wireless 5G are understood, we can set clear safety standards of public exposure limits and design an appropriate strategy for safe deployment.Go to:
There is a substantial overlap in pathobiology between COVID-19 and WCR exposure. The evidence presented here indicates that mechanisms involved in the clinical progression of COVID-19 could also be generated, according to experimental data, by WCR exposure. Therefore, we propose a link between adverse bioeffects of WCR exposure from wireless devices and COVID-19.
Specifically, evidence presented here supports a premise that WCR and, in particular, 5G, which involves densification of 4G, may have exacerbated the COVID-19 pandemic by weakening host immunity and increasing SARS-CoV-2 virulence by (1) causing morphologic changes in erythrocytes including echinocyte and rouleaux formation that may be contributing to hypercoagulation; (2) impairing microcirculation and reducing erythrocyte and hemoglobin levels exacerbating hypoxia; (3) amplifying immune dysfunction, including immunosuppression, autoimmunity, and hyperinflammation; (4) increasing cellular oxidative stress and the production of free radicals exacerbating vascular injury and organ damage; (5) increasing intracellular Ca2+ essential for viral entry, replication, and release, in addition to promoting pro-inflammatory pathways; and (6) worsening heart arrhythmias and cardiac disorders.
WCR exposure is a widespread, yet often neglected, environmental stressor that can produce a wide range of adverse bioeffects. For decades, independent research scientists worldwide have emphasized the health risks and cumulative damage caused by WCR [42,45]. The evidence presented here is consistent with a large body of established research. Healthcare workers and policymakers should consider WCR a potentially toxic environmental stressor. Methods for reducing WCR exposure should be provided to all patients and the general population.