Scientists urge government to issue Vitamin D advice, “arrogance that the government wants to wait”
A group of scientists and health experts have criticized the government for their wait-and-see approach to taking vitamin D. According to the experts, more and more studies show that Vitamin D can decrease the chance of getting Covid-19 or minimize the symptoms. In an interview with AD, experts argue that the government should use this knowledge.
Almost two months ago, scientists and health experts called on everyone to take vitamin D as a precaution against coronavirus. They received overwhelming support from GPs, pulmonologists, and other doctors. For example, the leading professor of Nutrition and Health at the Vrije Universiteit, Jaap Seidell, said that “waiting for absolute proof on vitamin D seems unwise given the large number of people with low vitamin D levels and the important role vitamin D plays in the immune system.” He urges people to follow the advice of experts, as was published in The Lancet, to take vitamin D as a precaution.
Other studies have since supported this claim. Leading German cancer researcher Herman Brenner argues that “vitamin D deficiencies may be responsible for almost nine out of ten corona deaths. That’s a tremendous number!”
“Unethical” to wait for a meta-study
The study included a sample size of 118 people with vitamin D deficiencies admitted to a German hospital, 16 of whom died. The 11.3 percent mortality rate was much higher among patients with a vitamin D deficiency than among other patients. The scientists argue that this was a small study but write that it “may be unethical to wait for the results of longer-term studies before taking action for public health.”
“There is a growing consensus in the scientific world about the important role of vitamin D,” says Manfred Eggersdorfer, professor of Healthy Aging at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). He argues that “it can reduce the chance that you will get corona and the infection can last shorter.”
The wait-and-see attitude adopted by governments does not sit well in the scientific community. Professor of immunology at Wageningen University, Huub Savelkoul, called the attitude “frustrating.” He states that “there are more and more studies showing the benefit of Vitamin D. I think it is a kind of arrogance that the government wants to wait for a meta-study first. It seems as if we don’t care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime. You have to be careful with that comment, but that’s where my frustration lies.”
The risk of a vitamin D overdose is small, according to Savelkoul. “You would have to knock back a whole batch in one go. Anyone with normal common sense understands that this is not wise.”
This statement is supported by Harry Wichers, professor of Biochemistry and Food Sciences at Wageningen University. He says that “directives for vitamin D are just as good as for keeping your distance. Above all, let’s not wait until it is too late!” According to Onno van Schayck, professor of Preventative Medicine at Maastricht University, “there is every reason to take enough vitamin D, especially in the winter.”
There is now a call to governments worldwide to draw more attention to vitamin D in the fight against the coronavirus. A global petition, signed by a hundred and fifty scientists, including more than sixty professors, aims to make the matter known. Professor of Medicine Michael Holick of Boston University emphasizes that “people are waiting for a magic miracle pill or vaccine, but they overlook something as simple as vitamin D.”
The Dutch Ministry of Health believes that the time is not yet ripe for new vitamin D advice. “In order to fully understand all corona-related research in the Netherlands – and worldwide – Minister de Jonge has set up an Advisory Panel of independent experts to advise on promising, innovative treatments for Covid-19. This panel has also been asked to advise on vitamin C and vitamin D,” said a spokesperson for the Health Minister. “We look forward to the results of those studies. The advisory panel does not yet see any reason to set guidelines for vitamin supplementation.”