|Lake Geneva, looking east|
It had been recognised early in the pandemic in the UK, USA and Sweden that people of black African and Asian ethnicity (BAME) were over-represented in critical care and fatal Covid-19 disease. This was automatically attributed to socio-economic disadvantage. However, at the end of March and during April the UK had experienced the deaths of 25 doctors from Covid-19, and 24 of these were of BAME. This was key finding, the vital anomaly or paradox, the observation that generates a new and powerful understanding.
The government accepted with some reluctance that excess BAME deaths were due to socio-economic disadvantage, and appointed committees to "look into it", kicking the can down the road. The inevitable long time-scale made it obvious that this approach had no hope of reducing BAME or other deaths during the pandemic. We just watched people die, about 500 per day. What a waste. What a tragedy.
The BAME groups within the UK similarly showed no sense of urgency. The agenda appeared to be automatic, that the cause of the excess deaths was "racism". The groups had an awareness of racism and socio-economic disadvantage, and general sociological issues. They would have had no knowledge of biological science. How sociological issues and racism could be solved during the timescale of the pandemic was a mystery, but again there was and still is no obvious imperative to actively prevent Covid-19 deaths.
There is much evidence to indicate that Vitamin D deficiency is responsible for the high incidence of BAME Covid-19 deaths. It requires a knowledge of biological science and cytogenetics, but with that and other information it is just a matter of "joining the dots".
In this way it is possible to obtain a clear picture that is not "racism".
But why were the government medical and scientific advisors unable to join the dots? And what about the medical journals and colleges? The published evidence was readily available.
The lack of a sense of urgency has been astounding. We were in the midst of a serious pandemic with many deaths, and we were well aware of what was happening. It was as though we were standing on a beach when we received a warning of an impending tsunami. Rather than immediately heading inland to high ground, we would appoint a committee!
BAME doctors are not socio-economically disadvantaged, nor do they live in overcrowded houses. They have a wide variety of ethnic origins with great deal of genetic diversity. But the thing that they have in common is inherited skin pigmentation. It is, or it should be, well-known that pigmented skin is very inefficient at producing vitamin D by the action of the sun. As a result BAME people have on average blood vitamin D levels only half that of the white population, and even they have levels that are lower than desirable.
Everyone knows that vitamin D is something to do with bones and that deficiency leads to rickets in children. Very few people seem to know that vitamin D is essential for the escalation of immunity in response to serious infection. Some doctors must know this, especially those close to the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Scientist. But from them, there has not been a whisper of what might have helped. They watch as the disaster unfolds. The Chief Scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance, stated at the end of April that we would do well if the number of deaths were less than 20,000. At more than 40,000 he must feel like a failure. but at least it is less than 500,000, the worst case predicted by Professor "Lockdown" Neil Ferguson!
I am know of many doctors and others who are aware of the potential of vitamin D to boost immunity at this vital time, and the frustrations that they have had in failing to bring this to national consciousness. The silence from this "at the top" is not easy to understand, when at this time of national emergency we might expect our leaders to seize an opportunity to control the illness and death resulting from the epidemic.
We have seen early warnings sent from the Far East, from the Philippines and Indonesia, that described that someone with a blood vitamin D level greater than 30ng/ml (75nmol/L) will have about a 95% chance of survival from Covid-19 and a minute chance of death, whereas someone below these limits will have about a 90% chance of critical or fatal illness. A compilation of studies has shown how critical is this level of 30ng/ml (75nmol/L). We can see this in the figure below, that when blood vitamin D level id below 30ng/ml the death rate is high, but it drops suddenly when the blood level is above this. I will explain the mechanism of this in a future Blog post.
The medico-political establishment in the UK has taken no notice of these studies. They have been critical of them for not being "peer reviewed", or "not randomised controlled trials", or "only observational", or "there is no proof". I will go into these absurdities in a future post, but for now it is as well to remember that the evidence that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer was also "observational". The attitude of the medico-political establishment brings to mind once again the response to the news of an approaching tsunami with an expected 40,000 casualties.
There has been another result from the Far East, this time from Singapore. In this study patients on admission to hospital with Covid-19 were randomly allocated to standard treatment or standard treatment plus treatment with a combination of Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Vitamin B12. Those on just the standard treatment had a significant disadvantage as judged by deterioration and need for oxygen therapy.
Although there was official silence about Vitamin D, word began to spread about its protective potential. The important step was paying attention to the deaths of the 24 BAME doctors, that the startling number of their excess deaths could only only be explained by inherited skin pigmentation and consequent vitamin D deficiency. The message seem to have spread very rapidly among BAME doctors, and they were of course a group of people who were at high risk of death during the epidemic. Self-preservation is more important than "peer review" if you are on a beach when there is a warning of a tsunami (sorry to repeat the analogy for the second time).
A strange thing happened to me in early May. I needed petrol for my chain-saw (not for my car as I was "locked down" in the house). I went to the local petrol station and when I was paying, I asked the ethnic Asian manager Sajid, who I know well, if he takes vitamin D. He had never heard of it and so I gave him advice concerning his ethnicity and the imperative to avoid vitamin D deficiency during this pandemic. His colleague arrived and so he asked his colleague to make a FaceBook movie of me repeating what I had told him. This I did, unfortunately in my gardening clothes and without any forethought. However he sent it to his friends and it was then cascaded with perhaps viral spread. I received notice from ethnic Asian friends in London, the South East and South West of England and also from Dubai, that they had seen the movie. I was also told by friends in my locality that they had seen the movie, and they had also seen my comments reported in the local daily newspaper the Lancashire Telegraph.
|Sorry – the movie does not seem to work on the Blog|
I was also told that "all" the local doctors in Blackburn are now taking vitamin D and recommending it to their patients. It is noticeable that the death rate from Covid-19 is lower in Blackburn than in neighbouring industrial towns with a large ethnic Asian population.
It is also notable that deaths of BAME doctors has come to an end, the last death being on May 2nd in Ramsbottom, quite close to where I live. It appears that that official ignorance and silence can be bypassed by a grassroots movement aided by traditional local newspapers and especially by social media. This appears to have happened within the BAME medical community in the UK: it is likely that the end of their deaths is because the great majority are now taking a vitamin D supplement.
Had this been "official" it could have been within a research programme, but it is just silent and although effective we are not really learning from it. However a retrospective survey could be undertaken to determine how many of the BAME doctors had started to take a vitamin D supplement during the pandemic, and especially during April 2020.
Although our Prime Minister tells us that we have "world-beating" something or other and that we are "beating" Covid-19, although observation leads to a different conclusion. Covid-19 is beating us. However the epidemic will subside as the population develops immunity. The UK is now fourth in the league of the most deaths per million population. Tiny and unfortunate San Marino heads the list. It is a tragedy for a nation (on the Adriatic coast of Italy) that has a population of only 33,400 and 42 Covid-19 deaths, 1257 per million. Also Andorra in the Pyrenees, with a population of 77,000 has had 51 deaths, 660 per million. The nations with deaths rates greater than 200 per million are shown in the figure below.
Of larger countries, Belgium has recorded 826 deaths per million and the UK 588 per million, just ahead of Spain and Italy. With 50,000 deaths the UK cannot really be considered to be "winning". Of course the mathematical model predicted a worst scenario 500,000 deaths. This was hardly sophisticated maths but primary school sums:
If three quarters of the population of 65 million develop the illness, how many approximately will this be? Answer 50 million. If 1% of them die, how many will die? Answer 500,000. Thank you Neil Ferguson, professor mathematical biology and government advisor (now resigned).
What this means is that we can now regard 50,000 deaths as "winning", as it only one tenth of the absurd prediction. Remember that 200,000 died in the UK as the result of the terrible Spanish flu of 1918-19. About 30,000 in the UK died from the Asian Flu pandemic in 1957-58, and a maximum estimation of 80,000 from the Hong Kong Flu in 1968-69.
We should have expected that during the 50 years since the last major pandemic, medical science would have thought of ways of protecting the population from serious and fatal death from what turned out to be Covid-19. Medical science has achieved that, but it appears to be too difficult for the medical scientists to understand or explain it to their political masters. Is it ignorance or is it ignoring that has kept the vital secret of the power of vitamin D to be withheld from the public?
What about the next inevitable pandemic of a virus that remains at present in its non-human animal host? How are we going to prepare for that?
During the past two weeks I have been working very hard with Professor David Anderson. We have written a book, which is now being prepared for release as an eBook, and later as a printed version.