By Christopher Monckton of Brenchley – Re-Blogged From WUWT
This column does not constitute medical advice. Check with your doctor. Many nostrums are being recommended, with varying justification, to reduce the harm from the Chinese virus. Some, like hydroxychloroquine, have side-effects and should only be taken if prescribed; others, like remdesivir, work (if at all) only during the early stages of disease; others, like the BCG virus against TB, have not yet been subjected to clinical trials.
However, early studies showed an interesting result, which the Marxstream media lazily attributed to capitalism’s imagined failures: the darker your skin, the more your risk from the infection. In Britain, all of the first ten doctors to die from Covid-19 were dark-skinned.
The pandemic has struck most severely above 35°N (editorial in Aliment. Pharm. Therap., and Marik et al. 2020), just as flu tends to end as summer comes. When the skin is exposed to the sun, the body makes Vitamin D3 more efficiently than through diet: salmon, tuna, mackerel, milk, some cereals, mushrooms and eggs all contain Vitamin D.
Vitamin D, used by the body to absorb calcium and grow bones, increases the production of antiviral proteins and decreases cytokines, the immune molecules known to cause a storm of dangerous inflammation, particularly in Chinese-virus patients. A shortage is linked to rickets, cancers, heart disease and weight gain. It is efficacious against many diseases:
Vitamin D deficiency is common not only in dark-skinned people, whose pigment blocks sunlight, but also in obese people, where the vitamin gets sequestered in fat cells; in those with Type 2 diabetes, where Vitamin D improves sensitivity to insulin; in the elderly, who avoid the sun and eat less; city dwellers, who see less of the sun; and men, who have lower Vitamin D levels than women in the winter. All of these groups are more likely to suffer severely if infected with the Chinese virus.
A recent study in Manchester found that average levels of vitamin D were 30% higher in summer than in winter and three times as high at all times in white people as in South Asians, who had less than a quarter of the 25 nanograms per milliliter that is regarded as sufficient.
Vitamin D3, in the form of gel tablets, is inexpensive and available without prescription, There are very few side-effects. A daily dose of 1000-4000 international units (25-100 micrograms) will maintain a sufficient Vitamin D level in most patients. The lower dosage is suitable for whites; darker-skinned people may need higher doses.
As already reported in this series, deficiency of Vitamin D3 is a long-proven risk factor for respiratory infections. The Chinese virus chiefly attacks the lungs. As Martineau et al. (BMJ 2017) showed in a meta-analysis of clinical trials involving more than 10,500 patients, rectifying Vitamin D3 deficiency reduces the risk of respiratory infection by 70%.
Recently, several commenters, notably William Astley and my good friend Dr Pat Frank, have provided additional evidence touching upon the efficacy of Vitamin D3 in keeping the pandemic at bay. Here is a summary.
Vitamin D supplementation could possibly improve clinical outcomes of patients infected with COVID-19, a preprint by Dr Mark Alipio of Davao Doctors’ College, Philippines (https://ssrn.com/abstract=3571484), reports retrospectively on 212 Chinese-virus cases. The Vitamin D level was found to be lowest in critical cases and highest in mild cases. Most of those infected had Vitamin D deficiency.
For each standard-deviation increase in serum 25-hydroxy-Vitamin D, the risk of a severe outcome was reduced eightfold, and the risk of a critical outcome was reduced 20-fold.
My noble friend Lord Ridley, reporting this result in The Times a couple of days ago, wrote: “Of 49 patients with mild symptoms … only two had low levels of vitamin D; of 104 patients with critical or severe symptoms, only four did not have low levels of vitamin D.”
Several doctors wrote to the BMJ last week drawing attention to Dr Alipio’s results: “Vitamin D biology is a mature well-researched field, dating back 100 years. Doses, and risks, within clinical parameters, are established and well quantified. Governmental intake guidance exists. Vitamin D deficiency is a medically accepted condition, requiring treatment.” In Britain, one in five are deficient in Vitamin D, which is why Public Health England recommends that everyone should take supplementation during the lockdown.
Evidence that Vitamin D supplementation could reduce risk of influenza and COVID-19 infections and deaths (Grant et al., Nutrients, April 2, 2020) found that “through several mechanisms, vitamin D can reduce risk of infections. Those mechanisms include inducing cathelicidins and defensins that can lower viral replication rates and reducing concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines that produce the inflammation that injures the lining of the lungs, leading to pneumonia, as well as increasing concentrations of anti-inflammatory cytokines.”
The paper provided some interesting evidence that Vitamin D reduces Chinese-virus risk: “The outbreak occurred in winter, a time when 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations are lowest; the number of cases in the Southern Hemisphere near the end of summer are low; that vitamin D deficiency has been found to contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome; and that case-fatality rates increase with age and with chronic disease comorbidity, both of which are associated with lower 25(OH)D concentration.”
Interestingly, the paper recommends much higher dosages than usual: “To reduce the risk of infection, it is recommended that people at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 consider taking 10,000 international units per day of vitamin D3 for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25(OH)D concentrations, followed by 5000 international units per day.”
The paper also recommends doubling what had been regarded as the minimum threshold concentration of Vitamin D in the blood: “… raise 25(OH)D concentrations above 40-60 nanograms per millilitre (100-150 nanomoles per liter). For treatment of people who become infected with COVID-19, higher vitamin D3 doses might be useful.”
Patterns of COVID-19 Mortality and Vitamin D: An Indonesian Study (Rahasurun et al., April 26, 2020: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3585561) looked at 780 patients. “… the majority of the death cases were male and older and had pre-existing conditions and below-normal Vitamin D serum levels … with increasing odds of death. When controlling for age, sex, and comorbidity, Vitamin D status is strongly associated with COVID-19 mortality outcome …”
Vitamin D insufficiency is prevalent in severe COVID-19 (Lau et al., doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.24.20075838) found that 11 of 13 intensive-care patients were deficient in Vitamin D, compared with only 4 of 7 not requiring intensive care. All Chinese-virus patients under 75 had Vitamin D deficiency.
Prevalence and correlates of Vitamin D deficiency in U.S. adults (Forrest & Stuhldreher, Nutr. Res., January 2011) studied almost 5000 patients and found that 42% were deficient in Vitamin D, but that 69% of Hispanics and 82% of black patients were deficient. “Vitamin D deficiency was significantly more common among those who had no college education, were obese, with a poor health status, hypertension, low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level, or not consuming milk daily.”
Order now while stocks last. Some weeks ago, my lovely wife ordered a year’s supply from the United States, which never came. She ordered it from the UK instead and, at a small cost, now has enough to see her through until this time next year. I have been taking a 1000 IU (25 microgram) Vitamin D supplement every day for some years, and have had not so much as a sniffle in all that time.
Today’s charts show Sweden’s case-growth rate at zero for the first time, in line with the mean growth rate for the world excluding China and occupied Tibet. Aside from Canada, estimated active cases are declining in all the countries we are following.
Fig. 1. Mean compound daily growth rates in estimated active cases of COVID-19 for the world excluding China (red) and for several individual nations averaged over the successive seven-day periods ending on all dates from April 8 to May 3, 2020.
Fig. 2. Mean compound daily growth rates in cumulative COVID-19 deaths for the world excluding China (red) and for several individual nations averaged over the successive seven-day periods ending on all dates from April 15 to May 3, 2020.