It’s smart to admit you don’t know the answer.
Sir, Ed Conway (May 29) asks, “how did Britain suffer one of the worst episodes of (Covid-19) in the world?” It might be old hat, but Occam’s razor remains relevant; the simplest solution to a conundrum is often the right solution.
The UK death rate stands at 558 per million of population. The sunny Indian subcontinent has a rate of 0.5 to 6 per million (Worldometer). This wild disparity is not necessarily due to inaccurate statistical analysis.
In the UK, we know the coronavirus has a proclivity for striking down the elderly, the obese, the socially disadvantaged and those with highly pigmented skin. Its victims often have associated underlying diseases, primarily cardiovascular disease, cancer, mood disorders, hypertension, diabetes and respiratory disorders. The actual cause of death in most cases is respiratory failure, brought about by waterlogged lungs due to the over-reaction of the stressed immune system, the so-called “cytokine storm”.
The hormone vitamin D is formed in the skin in response to irradiation by sunlight. Initially known for its role in bone health, vitamin D is now recognised as being of prime importance in upregulating the immune system.
Lack of vitamin D makes an individual peculiarly susceptible to infections, especially Acute Respiratory Infection.
Our dingy climate, indoor lifestyle and a desire to protect our skin from sun damage has resulted in a clinically significant depletion of vitamin D in the population; up to 40% is affected, especially notable in the elderly, the obese, the socially disadvantaged and those with highly pigmented skin.
A recent concern mooted in scientific circles is the possibility that low vitamin D levels and consequent downregulation of the immune system will reduce the antibody response to any future coronavirus vaccine and hence its efficacy.
It would appear that the “epidemic” of vitamin D deficiency has been overlooked by our politicians (not the scientists) during the present crisis. Is it not time to consider the use of an instantly available, proven and cheap preventative in parallel with the monumentally expensive and time-consuming effort to develop effective treatments and vaccines?
Richard Petty, The WellMan Clinic W1