Can Vitamin D Protect Against Covid-19?
It is well known that vitamin D bolsters the immune systemís ability to fight off infections, including colds and flu, and that it modulates the immune system to prevent it attacking the body as it does in auto-immune diseases. It also reduces the production of inflammatory cytokines that cause the ďcytokine stormsĒ that often kill people critically ill with Covid-19. Could this mean that vitamin D might be effective in treating people who have Covid-19, and protecting people from getting it? There are some studies and statistics that suggest this might be the case.
Studies have been done to show that in the 1918-19 flu pandemic, fewer people died of it during the summer, when vitamin D levels were higher due to the extra sunlight producing vitamin D in peopleís skin. If this is also the case with Covid-19, one would expect that southern hemisphere countries, that are coming out of summer would have significantly lower deaths from Covid-19 than northern hemisphere countries that are coming out of winter, whose populations would have lower vitamin D levels. The following table of Covid-19 death rates per million of population, as of April 22nd, in various northern hemisphere countries and three southern hemisphere countries, indeed shows this to strongly be the case: The death rates, as you can see are 20 to 100 times lower in Australia and New Zealand than in northern hemisphere countries!
Covid-19 Case and Death Rates as of 4/22/2020:
The death rate in Chile, while very low compared with Europe and the USA, is noticeably higher than in Australia and New Zealand. This is what would be expected, however, as darker skinned (and older) people make less vitamin D for a given amount of sunlight exposure, and Chile is populated with more darker skinned people than Australia or New Zealand. For such seasonal and population differences to be so significant, there must be considerable deficiencies in vitamin D levels in most countries, especially in winter. And indeed this is the case. Studies have shown that 40% of people are vitamin D deficient, even in summer, and that this rises to 60% at the end of winter, and this is according to the standards of conventional medicine. Natural doctors usually recommend higher levels of vitamin D, and against these levels 90% of people are vitamin D deficient.
If vitamin D deficiency is causing a significant number of deaths from Covid-19, and darker skinned (and older) people make less vitamin D, and are more likely to be deficient in it, then one would expect people of color (and older people) to be dying of Covid-19 at a greater rate than white people (and younger people). And indeed this has been happening. Of course there are no doubt other causes of this as well, such as the greater number of underlying illnesses in people of color and older people. But vitamin D levels could be one of the factors at play, and a deficiency of it could also be contributing to the greater number of underlying illnessesóit is known that vitamin D deficiency plays a part in cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, MS, Parkinsonís disease, autoimmune diseases and other chronic conditions.
Of course I donít know for certain that vitamin D would be an effective treatment for Covid-19, or a preventative against it, but I believe that the information Iíve presented here makes it likely enough that it would be worth being trialed for effectiveness and safety, alongside other potential anti-Covid-19 drugs. Itís possible vitamin D would be sufficiently effective against Covid-19 that it would allow us to open up our society and economy again more quickly and safely. Itís got to be worth investigating.
The case for reopening our societies and economies
There a five states in the USA, and one whole country, that never shut down for the coronavirus. We are certainly far enough into the pandemic now to see how these states and this country have done compared to those that have been locked down. If our public health authorities are correct they ought to have much higher death rates than similar areas that have locked down, and this would show lockdowns work to control infection. On the other hand, if the no-lockdown states have about the same, or lower death rates, then what is the point in incurring the huge economic and social costs of lockdowns if they are shown to be ineffective in saving lives? So let's look at the per-capita death rates in the country that never shut down, Sweden, and the five US states that never shut down, to see what the verdict is.
The above table, already referred to, lists Sweden's Covid-19 deaths per million of population as 192. This is lower than the UK, with 267 and Spain, with 464, and most other European countries. So, Sweden's experiment suggests shutdowns are a mistake. What about the five US states?
The five US states that never shut down are South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Arkansas and Iowa. Their Covid-19 death rates (as of 4/28/2020) are shown in the following table, along with the average rates for the whole USA, and for the state of Oregon.
Covid-19 death rates per million population, as of April 28, 2020:
The results of this experiment of these five states that refused to close down is clear. They have much lower per capita death rates than the country as a whole. It shows shutdowns are a colossal mistake: in addition to the huge economic and social cost of the shutdowns, there is a substantially greater Covid-19 death rate as well. But how could staying home actually lead to more deaths from Covid-19? It's because there is a medical cost to being quarantined: fear, anxiety, loneliness, lack of aerobic exercise, and lack of vitimin D from sunlight, all supress our immune system, so when we go out to go shopping for food and pick up the virus, we will get sicker from it and be more likely to die from it. At the moment our immune systems are our only defence against Covid-19, once we have contracted the virus, and being forced to stay at home weakens our immune systems. If instead of stay at home orders, our leaders incouraged us to get out and exercise in the sunshine, our health would be improved in so many ways! It's time to end shutdowns and get back to life. These five states and the country of Sweden have shown lockdowns don't work and are not necessary. We have let fear ruin our economy and break people's lives, and all for nothing. As FDR said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself!" Let's put that fear aside and start living again, as the social species we are!
Copyright © 2020, Mark J. Mason
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