Monday 9 August 2021

Covid-19 & VItamin D – something strange is happening in 2021

Mid-summer sunset across the Ribble Valley

2020 was memorable for the Covid-19 pandemic, but the behaviour of the pandemic conformed to the pattern that we expect in the natural world. 

The pandemic became significant in the UK during the month of March 2020, and on March 23rd lockdown was introduced as we had experienced 258 deaths. Despite this, cases and deaths continued to increase until mid-April 2020, when we experienced a maximum of 919 deaths in one day.

Mid-April is the time in the UK when the mid-day sun becomes more than 45 degrees above the horizon, and so vitamin D production starts. As a result, immunity becomes more effective and so there was a steady decline in Covid-19 deaths to a minimum level in August, with fewer than ten deaths per day. This is the same pattern for all respiratory infections, the non-specific beneficial effects of the summer enhancement of immunity. It is not difficult to understand.

As predicted by the natural annual cycle of respiratory infections, the incidence and deaths from Covid-19 increased in the early winter, when vitamin D production ceased and vitamin D reserves were reducing. A steady state was observed during November and December. This was seen in all European countries and in North America.

Figure 1. Covid-19 deaths in the UK during 2020

Figure 2. Covid-19 deaths in the Netherlands during 2020

Figure 3. Covid-19 deaths in Canada during 2020

However a sudden and unexpected increase in Covid-19 cases and deaths occurred in January 2021. What was even less expected and which remains unexplained is the sudden decrease in cases and deaths that followed in February. There was no obvious natural or therapeutic enhancement of immunity that could account for it. There was of course the introduction of the vaccination programme in mid-late December, but if it is viewed as causing the decline in deaths (much too rapid) it could equally be viewed as somehow causing the increase. 

Figure 4. Covid-19 deaths in the UK during 2020 and 2021

I have described previously the winter increase in Covid-19 deaths in the Andalucía region of Spain. A public health initiative in late November 2020 was to use Vitamin D in its activated form calcifediol, 25(OH)D, to protect the vulnerable elderly. It appeared to have a dramatic effect as there was a sudden drop in the number of deaths during December, with no obvious alternative explanation.

However this dramatic benefit was reversed by an equally dramatic increase in deaths in January. As in the UK it was was brief peak, but the experience in Andalucía indicated that this peak appeared to be vitamin D / immunity resistant. Most strange, and still unexplained.

Figure 5. Covid-19 deaths in Andalucía, Spain, during 2020-21

The end of the winter saw the expected decrease in cases and deaths as the vitamin D season started again, and in 2021 this was supplemented by the immunity benefits of the vaccination roll-out programme. 

All was going well in the early summer of 2021 in Europe, and then something else happened that was completely unexpected. In the UK, in June and continuing into July, there was a sudden peak of Covid-19 cases, five times greater than the April 2020 peak.

Figure 6. Covid-19 cases in the UK during 2020-21

The strange thing about this peak is not just its size, but that it occurred during the summer months when we would not expect a sudden outbreak of a respiratory virus. The number of cases is far greater than in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020. 

There are many more Covid-19 "tests" being performed in 2021 than in 2020 and there are concerns about a large number of "false positives", but this would not explain the huge difference between May and July 2021. There is something happening that is real rather than a change in testing methodology.

This 2021 peak has perhaps been defying not just expectations but also the natural cycle as we have known it and which we experienced in 2020. The implication of this peak is that it is resistant to natural immunity (and also to the vaccination programme).

The high transmissibility of the "Delta Variant" would not automatically translate into clinical illness in mid-summer. It has been suggested that this peak in the UK was the result of crowds congregating for soccer matches in Euro-2021 during June, but this is far from robust an explanation.

The point is that the June – July peak is not just a UK phenomenon. It has been more dramatic in the Netherlands, with a much more sudden onset and a little later in July.

Figure 7. Covid-19 cases in the Netherlands during the summer of 2021

But on the other hand it is not particularly dangerous. Although the number of cases has risen dramatically, the number of deaths from Covid-19 has remained low in the Netherlands and in the UK (with a slight upturn in August).

Figure 8. Covid-19 deaths in the UK during 2020 (blue) and 2021 (green)

The natural fall in deaths in the late Spring and Summer of 2020 is clear, and the low number of deaths in 2021 is very reassuring, a result of natural immunity and vaccine immunity. 

It is a mystery why the number of cases behaved so very differently from deaths, and why cases increased so dramatically. No doubt the reason will emerge.

But I have just come across the steepest increase in cases per day, which has taken place in Iceland during late July. Why has vitamin D immunity not suppressed it? What can possibly be causing it, again in the middle of the summer? 

Figure 9. Iceland : Covid-19 cases per day 2020 and 2021
(Source: Our World in Data)


  1. Perhaps as the virus becomes more transmissable it has also become weaker as viruses sometimes become ? That would explain the higher number of cases but fewer number of hospitlaisations and deaths ? Bit like a cold ?

    1. I agree that the virus at present appears to be weaker, so fewer deaths. But I would not expect this surge in cases in the summer, assuming that the cases are symptomatic. Summer infections, for example the common cold, will occur but will not generate symptoms as the natural immunity of the summer will suppress such an infection.

    2. But are the cases symptomatic ?

    3. Could it be that the Covid virus is changing somewhat as it becomes more transmissible. To take another virus that may have changed, norovirus, which used to be called “winter vomiting bug” is now often occurring in the summer. Over the past 30 years I and my son have had the misfortune to have had it twice in the summer months and only once in the winter. And I just found this about norovirus from the Guardian of 16th July 2021:

      Public health experts in England are warning of an increase in the number of cases of the vomiting bug norovirus after it reached levels last seen before the Covid-19 pandemic.

      Official data shows the highly infectious virus is far more widespread than usual for the summer months.

  2. Here in France we have had a crap summer so far with lots of cloud and rain and little opportunity for lying about in the sun. "Cases" of covid are not reliable. One has to look at hospitalisations and more importantly deaths. Although what one dies from can be manipulated- and the 28 day after a positive covid test categorisation allows this - death itself cannot. You are either dead or alive.

    1. I think it is true to say that none of the dat is really reliable. It is gathered from all over a country without a good scientific control. The science is weak. PCR testing is set to maximise sensitivity (not missing a case) at the expense of specificity (avoiding false positives). 40 rather than 25 PCR amplifications means lots of false positives, and of course the PCR tests for fragments, not the virus itself.
      If we ar to make any sense of what is happening, we must use the dat that is available, from Worldometer or Our World in Data. National data collection, eg from UK ONS, still can only express the data that it receives from a wide range of data sources.
      We need to use the data we have despite its short-comings.

  3. Re. Iceland -- even in summer, sunlight is rather weak. Inuit living at similar latitudes get their vitamin D from, especially, the livers of fish, seals etc. Perhaps the diet of present-day Icelanders is deficient in these ingredients.

    1. The challenge is to explain the massive increase in Covid-19 cases during the past two weeks. Could not have been a diet change. Body stores of vitamin D change very slowly.

    2. Dare I suggest that the PCR test is picking up fragments of the COVID-19 vaccination?

    3. Sorry, I hadn’t read all the comments before jumping in with both feet!

  4. The un-seasonal number of cases in June-July is interesting. I have two thoughts...
    1. The Delta variant is somewhat vitamin D resistant, possible but unlikely I feel.
    2. People are shedding vaccine 'particles' which are being detected by the tests. However the question then is how long could such a process extend-weeks or months as vaccines are rolled out.
    Whatever is going on then is clearly quite novel and has scope for lots of study!

    1. I agree that if a virus is immune resistant it is more to do with human immunity than virus characteristics.
      The shedding of vaccine particles causing positive PCR tests is very attractive and I think it is probably correct. Chemical rather than biological transmission.
      I hope that research is taking place and that debate will be in the public domain.

  5. The vaccinated are transmitting Covid, yet they are NOT being screened nor using precaution. Hence the increase in cases. Deaths could have increased because the injections jeopardise cellular immunity, and are quite a burden on the system of vulnerable people...?

  6. David, as I understand it, the pcr picks up spike protein RNA, amplified for a variable number of cycles, and with exponentially more false positives the more cycles done. And the lateral flow test picks up coronavirus spike protein itself. So neither can distinguish between viral infection, and shedding of spike (be it RNA/protein) or simultaneously secreted spike from the vaccine. We can surely predict that both these tests become positive in individuals after vaccination, and this will be amplified following the second dose? And obviously the second dose never comes before the first dose. Furthermore, do we have any idea how many tests were done, from which this data is drawn and which kind, and in how many were vaccinees as opposed to vaccine virgins such as my wife and myself? Isn’t this a clear example of the RIRO phenomenon? It must surely be an artefact as deaths are so low?

    1. I agree with your thoughts. Deaths are low in Europe, but very high in many Asian countries, such as Indonesia.

  7. I think I remember a similar thing happening with SARS. There was a test used in the USA which was picking up lots of new ‘cases’ but there was no increase In hospitalisation or deaths. Eventually they stopped testing and it all mysteriously went away. I think they need to do the same again and stop everyone being worried. As no one really knows what is likely to happen in the future we need to plan for a bad winter pressure which may or may not happen

    1. Hi Chris. Perhaps we should just stop testing and return to a normal life immediately.
      The pandemic in Europe might just disappear ATASTROKE, to quote the late UK prime minister Edward Heath.

  8. One explanation is that Vitamin D doesn't actually prevent infection at all, and doesn't reduce the number of cases. It simply renders a given infection much milder, with much lower mortality. This seems to be holding true even for the increase in summer cases. As to why we are seeing this increase may possibly be due to the delta variant being much more transmissable. This seemed to be the case in India when it emerged earlier this year.

    1. Immunity does not prevent "infection" but as you say it diminishes the impact of infection.
      What is the difference between 2020 and 2021?
      What changed during May and June 2021 in the UK?
      India: look at Our World in Data. Look at India. Look at time relationships between Cases/deaths and vaccinations.

  9. Check out the Massacre in Gibraltar you can find it by searching on BING google has censored it. The peple there are relatively elderly, and live behind and on the north side of a giant , sun-blocking rock. They weren't really known for being affected unusually by Covid. Then they started a vaccine program in January of 2021, vaccinating 5,000+ elderly. Within 2 weeks they started dropping like flies and Gibraltar shot up to having the highest deaths per million of any country at the time, even surpassing San Marino! It appears tey were all killed by the vaccine, but then were classified as Covid 19 deaths. Another interesting statistic comes from Israel, this July they reported>>>
    Israel’s latest COVID outbreak is mostly fully vaccinated people (search this on BING). Figure these things out and I think you will have the answer. I am guessing the vaccine can kill you if you are d3 deficient and then we are being lied to. Jeff T Bowles

  10. Fully vaccinated people have an around 50 to 60% reduced risk of infection from the Delta variant, including asymptomatic cases, according to the latest preprint data from Imperial's REACT study.
    Click on the blue preprint data for detail.

  11. Diggle4, Deborah Ashby1,
    Christl A. Donnelly1,2,5, Wendy Barclay6, Graham Cooke6,7,8, Helen Ward1,7,8, Ara Darzi7,8,9, Paul Elliott1,7,8,10,11,12,*

    Despite high levels of vaccination in the adult population, cases of COVID-19 have risen exponentially in England since the start of May 2021 driven by the Delta variant. However, with far fewer hospitalisations and deaths per case during the recent growth in cases compared with 2020, it is intended that all remaining social distancing legislation in England will be removed from 19 July 2021.
    We report interim results from round 13 of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 (REACT-1) study in which a cross-sectional sample of the population of England was asked to provide a throat and nose swab for RT-PCR and to answer a questionnaire. Data collection for this report (round 13 interim) was from 24 June to 5 July 2021.
    In round 13 interim, we found 237 positives from 47,729 swabs giving a weighted prevalence of 0.59% (0.51%, 0.68%) which was approximately four-fold higher compared with round 12 at 0.15% (0.12%, 0.18%). This resulted from continued exponential growth in prevalence with an average doubling time of 15 (13, 17) days between round 12 and round 13. However, during the recent period of round 13 interim only, we observed a shorter doubling time of 6.1 (4.0, 12) days with a corresponding R number of 1.87 (1.40, 2.45). There were substantial increases in all age groups under the age of 75 years, and especially at younger ages, with the highest prevalence in 13 to 17 year olds at 1.33% (0.97%, 1.82%) and in 18 to 24 years olds at 1.40% (0.89%, 2.18%). Infections have increased in all regions with the largest increase in London where prevalence increased more than eight-fold from 0.13% (0.08%, 0.20%) in round 12 to 1.08% (0.79%, 1.47%) in round 13 interim. Overall, prevalence was over 3 times higher in the unvaccinated compared with those reporting two doses of vaccine in both round 12 and round 13 interim, although there was a similar proportional increase in prevalence in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals between the two rounds.
    We are entering a critical period with a number of important competing processes: continued vaccination rollout to the whole adult population in England, increased natural immunity through infection, reduced social mixing of children during school holidays, increased proportion of mixing occurring outdoors during summer, the intended full opening of hospitality and entertainment and cessation of mandated social distancing and mask wearing. Surveillance programmes are essential during this next phase of the epidemic to provide clear evidence to the government and the public on the levels and trends in prevalence of infections and their relationship to vaccine coverage, hospitalisations, deaths and Long COVID

    1. What in reality is the Delta variant? Is just a positive test? Is it a true virus?

  12. Is it not suspicious that the government and its media allies de platform anyone who queries this subject giving a clear indication of being shifty. If they had more honesty and transparency and integrity it would not have created the use of the virus as a political few believe anything the government tells us. There are trillions in this vaccine for some and they are coercing people to have it who are young and healthy. It feels wrong to me. I don't believe an enquiry will fully explore all of this. Look no further than the enquiry into the Iraq war .

    1. Suspicious is an understatement. There is no debate. No science.

    2. Absolutely right! Keep up the great work, Dr Grimes.

  13. I hypothesize that this is due to this strain evolving in India, where there are not seasons. The viral load has evolved to be large enough to infect even in tropical conditions.

  14. I like Gabor Erdosi's explanation.

    "I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately, and the only explanation that could fit observations is reactivation of dormant viruses in the population. (Seasonal) respiratory viral dormancy has been debated a lot for decades, but there’s still no consensus on where exactly these virions could lay dormant in the body, nor on the trigger(s) & mechanism(s) responsible for reactivation. In light of recent research, my (educated?) guess is that the small intestine, and associated immune structures, is more likely place for this to occur than the respiratory tract. Admittedly, this is speculative, but neither implausible nor could I come up with an explanation that better fits what’s seen in more and more countries."

    See more details and supporting data in the thread: