Blog COVID-19

We arrived at Vitamin D as COVID-19 cure

It was only logical that COVID-19 will be cured with vitamin supplements. Peer-reviewed science is now catching up with the bustling Vitamin D market.

It had to happen. Vitamin supplements are promoted for every malaise, and COVID-19 is the hottest business opportunity one can get. After the initial confusion with stem cells, nanotechnology, hormones, irradiation, and of course chloroquine and its derivative hydroxychloroquine (HCQ), the world came to its senses and recognised that only a prescription-free drug can cure COVID-19, otherwise where is the fun in that.

Since most COVID-19 victims are senior citizens, anti-aging companies arrived on the spot offering their proprietary supplements as COVID-19 prevention or even therapeutic medicine. While these fancy NAD+ and resveratrol supplements sound cool and futuristic (anti-aging!) it excludes other hard-working scammer and grifters who also wish to sell something but have patented nothing. The mineral supplement Zinc is literally dirt cheap and thus has a potential, since it was prophesied by quack-messiah Vovka “Zev” Zelenko of New York as important ingredient in the HCQ cure, but then again, you still need prescription drugs HCQ and the antibiotic azithromycin for Zinc to do its magic on COVID-19. A vitamin would be perfect, pensioners always need those, vitamins are always good, the word alone is reassuring. But which vitamin?

While scratching their bottoms about whether to go for Vitamin A, Vitamin B or Vitamin C (which cures all diseases anyway, cf Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling), with some Dutch merchants peddling Vitamin K, and surely Vitamin E is an option, too, the experts seem to have eventually arrived at Vitamin D. Why?

Well, as the coronavirus is raging uncontrolled in the United States because the President Donald Trump does not like bad news, most deaths happened among the Black and LatinX communities. Which is for sure not something making the Imperial Wizard Trump sad, but it made some biomedical scientists think. What if it is not the poverty, failed public health and blatant institutional racism which kills Black Americans in the pandemic, but something as simple and cheap as a lack of Vitamin D? In humans, the vitamin is naturally produced by exposure to sunlight, of which white skins takes up more than dark skin, so you see where this is going.

If you need scientific guidance, genetics professor Ewan Birney, director of EMBL-EBI in Edinburgh, can explain. Even a Time article highly critical of the Vitamin D theory of COVID-19 medicine wrote this:

“Indeed, many of the known risk factors for COVID-19—being Black or Hispanic; being elderly; having an underlying health condition; having a high body mass index—are also risk factors for vitamin-D deficiency.”

You see, since LatinX people are not perfectly pale white, they count as Vitamin-D deficient also, even if they live in the polar regions of California. In fact, US insurances might register being non-white as pre-existing medical condition (yes, I am aware they are eager to do exactly this as Trump dismantles Obama’s Affordable Care Act). Even The Lancet chimed in with some race medicine, via a comment article by British experts Adrian Martineau and Nita Forouhi endorsing Vitamin D supplements:

“The striking overlap between risk factors for severe COVID-19 and vitamin D deficiency, including obesity, older age, and Black or Asian ethnic origin, has led some researchers to hypothesise that vitamin D supplementation could hold promise as a preventive or therapeutic agent for COVID-19.”

Yes, we forgot Asians! Which explains such horrendous rates of COVID-19 in India, it must be the dark skin, and the lack of sun because unlike COVID-19 resistant British folks, those Indian farmers are always indoors…, ah crap, never mind. Since when are non-peer reviewed reality facts allowed to interfere with peer-reviewed science?

Vitamin D theory of COVID-19 is beautiful. It allows you to roll out any crypto-racist bunk and pretend it’s solid science, while peddling prescription-free supplements out the back. And in America, they love racial medicine, US hospital algorithms distribute (or rather deny) healthcare according to your skin colour, which bottom line is that Black people are more primitive than whites and therefore need less medical care.

Studies correlating COVID-19 to Vitamin D levels arrived quickly as the pandemic grew, and now gain traction as the HCQ hype declines. This paper from 3 September is probably the most headline-grabbing one, because it is from USA and appeared in JAMA. No wait, it’s the downstream Open Access cash-making outlet, JAMA Network Open, where it costs $3000 to publish.

David O. Meltzer, Thomas J. Best, Hui Zhang, Tamara Vokes, Vineet Arora, Julian Solway Association of Vitamin D Status and Other Clinical Characteristics With COVID-19 Test Results JAMA Network Open (2020) doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.19722 

The authors accessed health records of COVID-19 patients and concluded that those who eventually caught the virus had low Vitamin D levels before:

In this cohort study of 489 patients who had a vitamin D level measured in the year before COVID-19 testing, the relative risk of testing positive for COVID-19 was 1.77 times greater for patients with likely deficient vitamin D status compared with patients with likely sufficient vitamin D status, a difference that was statistically significant.

Yes, the skin colour of patients was noted. None of the participants was actually Vitamin D deficient, so the authors set some threshold to assign them as “likely deficient”. They did notice that many had various pre-existing conditions like obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular problems, all COVID-19 risk factors. Low Vitamin D levels used to be see in the pre-COVID-19 times just an general biomarker of bad health, but now they became the main cause for getting infected with COVID-19 in the first place. Maybe confused by the fact that the majority of their analysed patients were not white, the authors conclude:

Since African American and Hispanic populations in the US have both high rates of vitamin D deficiency and bear a disproportionate burden of morbidity and mortality from COVID-19,35,36 they may be particularly important populations to engage in studies of whether vitamin D can reduce the incidence and burden of COVID-19.

What a lovely idea. Instead of providing public health and insurance available to everyone, why not telling Black and Hispanic Americans to pop some cheap Vitamin D pills.

As paediatrics professor Todd Alexander of University of Alberta was quoted in Folio, this Vitamin D deficiency and weakened immunity theory is not new, and has been used to explain diseases before:

“In the 1980s and ’90s, studies emerged that found a role for vitamin D in immune function. This, according to Alexander, led to a deluge of clinical studies finding reduced vitamin D levels in people affected by a host of diseases including asthma, cancer, diabetes and multiple sclerosis.”

Those cancer and asthma studies are now long forgotten, except by some unscrupulous vitamin peddlers. Correlation is not causation, but unfortunately not every scientist will agree with Alexander. Aside of rickets (which is a real Vitamin D deficiency syndrome) medical science has so far failed to convincingly connect any other disease to Vitamin D deficiency. Thanks to modern diet, there are anyway only few people with critically low Vitamin D levels in need of supplementation, while these unnecessary supplements do increase calcium uptake up to the formation of kidney stones. Doctors already noticed cases of Vitamin D poisoning in COVID-19 risk group patients who tried to “boost immunity”.

But then again, there is COVID-19 pandemic going on and their is no time for the scientific method.

The market for Vitamin D was already there, which is another beauty of the approach. Because everyone was convinced that showing yourself outside unprotected will immediately give you skin cancer, a notion supported by the extremely successful sunscreen industry (even thoughmelanoma rates in the U.S. have tripled since the 1970s, even as the use of sunscreen has increased“), there evolved a need to counteract the sun avoidance and the resulting potential Vitamin D deficiency with supplements. And now there is COVID-19 on, and what coincidence, Vitamin D helps also against that! The science has spoken.

Especially since the Vitamin D approach is such great business and also great fun. How about European COVID-19 death rates explained with dark-skinned Italians and lazy Spaniards doing their siesta in the shadows while the Nordic races toil in the fields, with their proud white faces turned towards the sun? Here is a paper from the (apparently COVID-19-resistant) UK on just that, its p-values for Vitamin D levels vs COVID-19 cases and mortality just happen to be exactly p=0.05, the magic value.

Petre Cristian Ilie, Simina Stefanescu & Lee Smith The role of vitamin D in the prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 infection and mortality Aging Clinical and Experimental Research (2020) doi: 10.1007/s40520-020-01570-8

The Southern European countries have lower levels of vitamin D because of decreased exposure (prefer the shade in strong sun) [10] and also as skin pigmentation decreases vitamin D synthesis [11]. Northern part of Europe’s mean levels are better as a consequence of the consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements as well as fortification of milk and milk products (Finland) [6].”

Indeed, it must be all that Surströmming which Swedes eat, if anything it ensures social distancing. You might wonder who takes such a braindead and bigoted study seriously. Professor Helmut Schatz does, one of Germany’s top endocrinologists. Former governmental advisor Professor Hans-Konrad Biesalski of University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart analysed 30 studies, including the coronavirus effects on the “black race“, and urged Germans in June 2020 to take Vitamin D supplements for COVID-19. Elsewhere in Germany, the ultra-right xenophobes and rabid COVIDIOTS of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) demanded, also in June 2020 that the German Bundestag issues Vitamin D recommendation for COVID-19 prevention. Their proposal was rejected.

Vitamin D from fish is what keeps Sweden COVID-19 free!

But also Italians and Spaniards themselves are jumping the bandwagon. Endocrinologist Luigi Gennari of University of Sienna presented his research to a closed circle at a conference, and nobody else, which should suffice. He concluded:

Our data give strong observational support to previous suggestions that reduced vitamin D levels may favor the appearance of severe respiratory dysfunction and increase the mortality risk in patients affected with COVID-19“.

And in Spain, just look at this clinical trial from Cordoba, which used the Vitamin D analogue calcifediol. It cannot be more convincing:

Marta Entrenas Castillo, Luis Manuel Entrenas Costa, José Manuel Vaquero Barrios, Juan Francisco Alcalá Díaz, José López Miranda, Roger Bouillon, José Manuel Quesada Gomez “Effect of Calcifediol Treatment and best Available Therapy versus best Available Therapy on Intensive Care Unit Admission and Mortality Among Patients Hospitalized for COVID-19: A Pilot Randomized Clinical study” The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology (2020) doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2020.105751 

Only 2% of the 50 Vitamin D treated patients went to ICU as opposed to 50% of 26 patients who did not get Vitamin D!

Now, I really must commend the authors for their cleverness. The clinical trial started by dosing all COVID-19 patients with HCQ, but then that chloroquine cargo cult ship has sailed, or rather ran aground (its unhinged captain Didier Raoult crying sabotage as Marseille went from HCQ religion hotspot to COVID-19 hotspot). Hence the clever Cordoba investigators quickly switched to a new magic drug, Vitamin D, on top of HCQ! The journal they chose is not really specialising on clinical trials (aside of reviews), but it does specialise on Vitamin D research. Which was good enough to find the right reviewers. Who agreed with the authors that the many COVID-19 deaths Spain has experienced are due to Spaniards not getting enough sun in the winter.

Update 17.11.2020. The Castillo et al paper seems to be extremely authoritative, maybe because not many bothered to read it properly, but here is a nice takedown by DW Science. It quotes Martin Smollich, pharmacology professor at University of Lübeck in Germany, who noticed that the placebo control arm of the clinical trial included 19% of diabetics and 57% of hypertension sufferers, who are the highest COVID-19 risk group. The Vitamin D arm, where the survival rates were so much higher, happened to have merely 6% of diabetics and 24% of hypertension patients. But it passed peer review, so how dares Smollich to criticise it now!

Now, we arrive at some really serious money making. With these authors it cannot be any more obvious that they are all unashamed Vitamin D industry shills. Especially the last character on that paper.

Harvey W. Kaufman, Justin K. Niles, Martin H. Kroll, Caixia Bi, Michael F. Holick SARS-CoV-2 positivity rates associated with circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels PloS one (2020) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239252

The first four authors are employees of Quest Diagnostics, which tests your blood Vitamin D levels and then sells you Vitamin D supplements. The last author is the notorious Michael Holick, described by New Yorker as “The Child-Abuse Contrarian”, who issues bizarre medical diagnoses over the phone and whose custom-curated promotional Wikipedia profile was eventually vandalised by the reality. A Controversies section was added:

Holick has been involved in several medical controversies. While at Boston University, he was asked to leave the Division of Dermatology because of his promoting the medical benefits of sun exposure. He accepted research funding for this work from a non-profit tanning bed company, considered by many to be an important potential bias. Barbara Gilchrest, then head of the department at Boston University, called Holick’s book “shlock science” and Holick “a poster boy for the tanning industry”.[50]

Holick received nearly $163,000 from 2013 to 2017 from pharmaceutical companies, according to Medicare’s Open Payments database, which tracks payments from drug and device manufacturers. The companies paying him included Sanofi-Aventis, which markets vitamin D supplements; Shire, which makes drugs for hormonal disorders that are given with vitamin D; Amgen, which makes an osteoporosis treatment; and Roche Diagnostics and Quidel Corp., which both make vitamin D tests.[51]

Holick has also been criticized by other physicians because of his testimony, defending accused child abusers by asserting that Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a cause of non-traumatic fractures in infancy (rather than abuse).[52] Experts in Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, as well as pediatricians specializing in traumatic bone injury, refute Holick’s position, which is completely unsubstantiated by the medical literature. In over 300 criminal cases Holick has never concluded that the child who suffered broken bones had been abused. In one case of a child who had suffered broken bones in which Holick defended the accused parent, the child later went on to suffer severe brain injury, for which the parent has been indicted.[53]

Since May 2017, Holick has been barred from evaluating or treating children by Boston Medical Center, which subsequently reported him to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine for “health care facility discipline.” [54]

In January 2018, Robert Marvin Ray, one of the parents whom Holick worked with over child abuse suspicions, was arrested and charged with child abuse.[50][55]

His promotion of Vitamin D has been called extreme, even speculating that the extinction of dinosaurs caused by a lack of it in reduced sunlight.[56]

Would you as a journal editor accept anything from such a “scientist”? Well, PLOS One did. Maybe they were impressed by the sheer numbers of patients:

This study used a retrospective, observational analysis of deidentified tests performed at a national clinical laboratory to determine if circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels are associated with severe acute respiratory disease coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) positivity rates. Over 190,000 patients from all 50 states with SARS-CoV-2 results performed mid-March through mid-June, 2020 and matching 25(OH)D results from the preceding 12 months were included.

Over One Hundred Ninety Thousands of patients, who can say no to such a gigantic clinical trial dataset, especially if it promises The Cure for COVID-19? If it reminds you of the Surgisphere scandal for which both The Lancet and NEJM fell arse over tit, well, this is how scholarly publishing works. The story counts, not the author’s or their dataset’s credibility.

Holick’s Boston University of course proudly issued a press release. But PLOS One might have second thoughts:

Having tweeted their concern on 24 September, the next day PLOS One published yet another paper by Holick about curing COVID-19 with Vitamin D. It first appeared as preprint on the Elsevier’s SSRN server, which is a much fancier preprint server than others because it is named “Preprints with THE LANCET“. Now in PLOS One, what honour for the journal.

Zhila Maghbooli, Mohammad Ali Sahraian, Mehdi Ebrahimi, Marzieh Pazoki, Samira Kafan, Hedieh Moradi Tabriz, Azar Hadadi, Mahnaz Montazeri, Mehrad Nasiri, Arash Shirvani, Michael F. Holick Vitamin D sufficiency, a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D at least 30 ng/mL reduced risk for adverse clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19 infection PLoS ONE (2020) doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0239799

This time, the authors saved “only” 235 patients in Iran, while PLOS One informs you: “The authors have declared that no competing interests exist“. Not even Holick, half of whose business is Vitamin D grifting (the other half being helping child abusers in court).

But now, the best Vitamin D for COVID-19 paper ever. Straight from the French Parliament, Assemblée National, and its MP, Joachim Son-Forget. This professional politician once studied medicine and did a PhD in psychology, which automatically made him expert for many things sciency, these days always ready with an educated and even peer-reviewed guess about COVID-19. Son-Forget has been promoting HCQ on Twitter and he of course is a great admirer of the greatest French scientist of all times, Didier Raoult (for whom he even raised money, it seems).

A great scientific mind himself, Son-Forget (and colleagues) postulated in Medical Hypotheses, a comedy magazine run by Elsevier, “that betathalassemic heterozygote population prevalence is correlated to immunity against COVID-19, by a regression“. Would you like to see the data they based this assumption on?

The polymath knowledge of Dr Son-Forget, MP is evident in his genius way of plotting that regression.

Incidentally, the authors list there was exactly same as on this stroke of genius, this time about the Vitamin D:

Édouard Lansiaux, Philippe P. Pébaÿ, Jean-Laurent Picard, Joachim Son-Forget Covid-19 And Vit-D: Disease Mortality Negatively Correlates With Sunlight Exposure Spatial and Spatio-temporal Epidemiology (2020) doi: 10.1016/j.sste.2020.100362

The authors (or rather only Edouard Lansiaux who has to vouch for everything) analysed COVID-19 related health data from France, except colonies and Corsica because the authors decided they have much sun but not enough hospitals there. They concluded:

in continental metropolitan France, average annual sunlight hours are significantly (for a p-value of 1.532 × 10−32) correlated to the COVID-19 mortality rate, with a Pearson coefficient of -0.636. This correlation hints at a protective effect of sunlight exposure against COVID-19 mortality.

And indeed, there is no COVID-19 at all in Marseille, famous for its radiant sun (who is of course Didier Raoult). Don’t believe the news.

A Letter to Editor regarding that article by Son-Forget was published in the same journal, its authors are Florian Naudet, Clara Locher, Alain Braillon and André Gillibert. They listed “Major statistical flaws”in Son-Forget’s research and concluded:

the manuscript has no informative value at all concerning any association between “Covid-19 And Vit-D”. Therefore, we think that the article methods and conclusions are too flawed to have any value.

But, as scholarly authorities advice, we must remain open regarding Vitamin D as COVID-19 medicine. Especially since the former CDC director Tom Frieden advised Americans already in March 2020 to take Vitamin D supplements for COVID-19 prevention.

The Vitamin D hype is working. Even Anthony Fauci himself recently advocated the supplement:

If you are deficient in vitamin D, that does have an impact on your susceptibility to infection. So I would not mind recommending, and I do it myself taking vitamin D supplements“.

The 78 year old Fauci also recommended taking Vitamin C:

that vitamin C is “a good antioxidant.” “So if people want to take a gram or two at the most [of] vitamin C, that would be fine

Sure, people in Fauci’s age are in danger of vitamin deficiency and some might need supplements to support their weakened immune system. But old age is about much more than maybe lacking some Vitamin D, so the causality with COVID-19 severity is very strenuous there at best. Maybe it all is Fauci’s diplomatic way for distracting Americans from taking HCQ. Or drinking bleach.

And anyway, the only real prevention cure for COVID-19 is cabbage.

Update 15.12.2020

Of all Vitamin D papers out there, this one by marketing professor Bernd Skiera from my neighbourhood Goethe University Frankfurt takes the proverbial biscuit.

Rahul Kalippurayil Moozhipurath, Lennart Kraft & Bernd Skiera, Evidence of protective role of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation in reducing COVID-19 deaths. Scientific Reports (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74825-z

Brief summary:

  • COVID-19 deaths are caused by Vitamin D deficiency, science fact
  • UV light is great
  • But UV light is also bad, in can cause cancer
  • Solution: buy Vitamin D supplements, a preventive and therapy for COVID-19!

Now read this Conflict of Interest disclaimer:

RKM is a PhD student at Goethe University, Frankfurt. He also is a full-time employee of a multinational chemical company involved in vitamin D business and holds the shares of the company. This study is intended to contribute to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and is not sponsored by his company. BS also holds shares of the company.”

The company is BASF, Rahul KM does consulting for it. BS does not stand for bullshit, but for Professor Bernd Skiera, The Teutonic Genius Who Saved The World from COVID-19.

Update 28.12.2020

Now it gets serious, the IT folks are the to solve Covid-19!

The Open Letter from 7 December 2020, organised by the former Google exec and now anti-aging biotech investor Karl Pfleger , IT entrepreneur Gareth Davies and some others, is signed by currently 150 doctors, academics and British politicians (all disclose their own daily Vitamin D supplement uptake). It declares:

“Vitamin D is much safer than steroids, such as dexamethasone, the most widely accepted treatment to have also demonstrated a large COVID-19 benefit. Vitamin D’s safety is more like that of face masks.”

The list of signatories includes shills like Holick, but also other names I recognise: the Twitter celebrity doctor Eric Feigl-Ding, former Brexit negotiator David Davis MP and UCL’s chief eugenics enthusiast Steve Jones.

Oh, and there is also another “Evidence Synthesis” paper from the UK:

George Griffin, Martin Hewison, Julian Hopkin, Rose Kenny , Richard Quinton, Jonathan Rhodes, Sreedhar Subramanian and David Thickett Vitamin D and COVID-19: evidence and recommendations for supplementation Royal Society Open Science (2020) doi: 10.1098/rsos.201912

We learn that people with dark skin are low in Vitamin D and hence die of COVID-19 more often. While look, Italians and Spaniards don’t get enough sunlight:

Figure published by same authors previously in May, Laird et al 2020, hence the European mortality ratios a bit outdated, but who cares.

The paper concludes:

“There seems nothing to lose and potentially much to gain by recommending vitamin D supplementation for all, e.g. at 800–1000 IU/day,”

Two authors (including Thickett) declared to receive speaking honoraria from Vitamin D seller Thornton Ross.


If you are interested to support my work, you can leave here a small tip of $5. Or several of small tips, just increase the amount as you like (2x=€10; 5x=€25). Instead of buying Vitamin D supplements?


124 comments on “We arrived at Vitamin D as COVID-19 cure

  1. I don’t know which one to glorify here: ‘ sheer Ignorance’ or ‘illiteracy of pathophysiology in the prohormonal effects of vitamin D’. Vitamin D is not a vitamin anymore; that’s a misnomer these days. It is a prohormone. It affects almost 600 genetic codes on our DNA which in turn run our cellular and humoral immune response optimally. It affects breast health, bone health, prostate health, cholesterol metabolism, mental health and immune health if not more. The effects via different receptors and conglomeration of other pathophysiologic processes sure to affect perhaps cytokine mediates storm. On off phenomenon at millions of receptor level: why is ignorance in science allowed to comment on articles. Vitamin D as a prohormone is what the Sun is to our galaxy…take it or leave it. lets not spread rumors or illiterate connotations based on guess work after a few articles.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Low vitamin D is connected to the deregulation of our immune systems. It is not racist to state the obvious, scientific fact that people with darker skin in higher latitudes tend to produce less vitamin D than people with lighter skin. In fact, it’s absolutely insane to make the claims here that it’s all just “racism” to make some basic inferences from these facts. Maybe those inferences are wrong, but to accuse people of racism for making them is insane.

    Maybe the low vitamin D is only correlated to poor outcomes because of some other problem that causes this (obesity, etc). You could have made the argument that lighter-skinned people tend to have poor access to health care (especially in the US) which ultimately was the primary cause for their out-sized representation in the fatality statistics.

    What you are doing here is incredibly damaging to science and to the lives of people everywhere. You help to create an atmosphere of fear to even suggest certain possible treatments to experiment with based on fallacious accusations of “racism”. In your haste to paint these people as racists did it not occur to you that, if in fact they have a valid point, you made it that much harder for us to even find out? You are engaging in heresy-fighting tactics of the medieval Church here.

    I get that you want to combat systemic racism and end this rapacious socio-economic system we live in where God knows how many people are without health insurance during a deadly pandemic (and I think that’s why you see fatality rates so high for black and brown Americans). I am on your side here. But that’s not a science issue. Science has to deal with objective, measurable facts. We have to be willing to test predictions made by different models and those models need to be based on reality — and the reality is that vitamin D levels are at least correlated to poor covid outcomes and the the black population of the United States is almost twice as likely as whites to be deficient. Let’s test the hypothesis and stop impugning people of racism for even daring to acknowledge scientific facts regarding differences between the physiology of races.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. matthewpottinger

    What is this garbage article, is this for real, or is it the Onion?

    I’m pretty much speechless. Vitamin D studies = racism? What kind of crack were you smoking when you wrote this rambling mess?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Vitamin D Deficiency and Air Pollution Exacerbate COVID-19 Through Suppression of Antiviral Peptide LL37
    This addresses just a couple of the known ways in which vitamin D makes a difference in respiratory viral infections. However, please pay attention to the issue of air pollution. Fine particles in air pollution can interfere with vitamin D protection against C-19. The article is open access, free download.


    • It addresses them hypothetically – it’s not a research paper but clearly IDed as a “hypothesis & theory” article. Suggests a link but doesn’t demonstrate one.


  5. Bit of a Trumpian conflation of facts: while the rates in India may be high due to environmental conditions, it would be necessary to compare severity and mortality rates, not infection rates. I have seen no evidence vitamin D prevents COVID but some good evidence it regulates immune response and inflammatory (cytokine) response. In fact I came to this conclusion while watching Dr. Bruce Hollis lecture on vitamin D as a treatment for inflammation in the prostate, in which they also did extensive genomics and found that several genes were upregulated by the vitamin and differences between serum and cellular levels correlated. Since it is clearly an overreaction that is the most harmful aspect (at least until we get better genomics about lonh term effects of COVID) then regulating immune response and inflammation would seem like a no brainer. Of course with no patents on vitamin D (so far) there ain’t no money in dat…


    • Also, I have friends who’ve lived in India whose doctor there recommended their children take Vit D supplements because it’s apparently common to be low there. If anything, Leonid’s reference to Indian farmers – albeit sarcastic – seems to use an almost racist trope. India is a highly urbanised country with incredibly high population densities, as you say ideal for COVID spread. It’s pretty clear that such high densities, with people living and socialising in incredibly close proximity, are going to result in high infection rates and large numbers of deaths. Healthcare and socio-economics are also going to lead to a higher death rate. Then, figuring out the true death rate when testing is unlikely to be capturing enough cases is going to be difficult (although I haven’t kept up to date with the detail of the Indian situation). I daresay Leonid thinks this is all obvious and goes without saying but it gets rather lost in all the sarcasm.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sorry Leonid, but this article is a piece of crap as you’ve absolutely no understanding of the subject and hence what you are discussing here.

    First of all Vitamin D although called a vitamin is a hormone. And as hormones’ do it has a wide range of impact on organs of various systems. Vitamin D actions are mediated by Vitamin D receptor (VDR) that is mostly expressed on cells of endothelium. VDR regulates expression of 900+ genes and is major regulator of Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone system (RAAS) which comprises kidneys, adrenals, gastrointestinal tract, liver, heart and brain and is a major player in blood pressure regulation. Vitamin D also has direct impact on both innate and acquired immune system functions as well as metabolic processes.

    In humans most of the Vitamin D is synthesized in photochemical process that starts in the epidermis. UVB radiation from sunlight is absorbed by chemical that is converted into previtamin D that is later metabolized into active form of Vitamin D. Uptake from food is negligible due to limited amounts in the food as well as limited absorption from GI tract. The darker the skin the less UVB radiation is absorbed since melanin doesn’t absorb UVB radiation. Therefore people that live towards north have evolved to have lighter skin. Unless you live in Africa and supplement with Vitamin D chances are more than huge that you are Vitamin D deficient from October to March. Most of the people living in moderate climate zones (like southern Spain or Central Europe) have too dark skin and have too little sun exposure to synthesize enough Vitamin D during winter months. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with RAAS malfunction via increased Angiotensin II levels in plasma.

    Another thing regarding COVID-19 is the ACE2 gene and therefore receptor expression. It’s well known fact that ACE2 gene expression is more expressed in people of non-European ancestry. ACE2 is a heavy player in COVID-19 severity as infection with SARS-CoV-2 means more ACE2-receptors lost upon infection. Losing ACE2 receptors results in Angiotensin II increase (just the same way as low Vitamin D results in more Angiotensin II) which in turn drives formation of microthrombus, endothelial dysfunction, DVT and pulmonary embolism which we see in severe cases of COVID-19.

    Vitamin D is more than capable of bringing this pandemic under control but I guess you would like to have your $5 instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Vitamin D won’t bring this pandemic under control. It might reduce the death rate and save lives, but the idea that it might be some panacea is just bunk. The pandemic would still be happening if we all had optimal Vit D levels.


      • Um, the virus can spread and still infect intermittent people or a smaller fraction, and not be a pandemic. Personally I think the pandemic phase would be gone if everyone brought their blood levels of 25-OHvitamin D to 60 ng/L, but would also still advocate other easy measures.

        I personally have multiple risk factors and utilize multiple “mega” nutraceuticals including time release vitamin C 2-4 g TID, quercetin, magnesium chloride, and zinc. My wife and I take 10,000 iu vitamin D per day.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Although the existing studies are poor, they show either a weak effect or no effect on transmission. If the effect on transmission reduction were as strong as you claim then that effect would have shown in the studies we already have. As far as I know, it doesn’t.

        What the existing studies don’t disprove – but what is supported by existing knowledge of biochemistry and immunology, as well as statistics such as the proportion of UK ethnic minority doctors that died of COVID-19 in the first wave (over 90% were ethnic minority) – is that having optimum levels of D might reduce the risk of severe disease and death.

        Those are two very different claims, and people on both sides of this debate are conflating the two which is massively unhelpful.


  7. Marxian Lies Persist

    I can’t decide which is worse from the this “author”, the partisan sanctimoniousness or his insufferably arrogant attitude, though I suppose these are linked.

    It’s fairly simple and obvious. Hi Vitamin D levels (I maintain a 45-50 range) via supplements/sun exposure and moderately healthy lifestyle choices make all the difference in the world for not only Covid, but most health related questions. Duh.

    This is NOT “systemic racism” you LYING schmuck, but yeah, keep contributing to the “culture fire” started by hard leftists to destroy this society from within. Your editorializing would make PRAVDA proud.

    One paragraph is all that’s needed:

    Maintain minimum Vitamin D level of 30+ (though 40+ is encouraged via a inexpensive supplements and an average daily exposure to natural sunlight of 30-45 minutes per day). Moreover healthy dieting, moderate exercise and adequate nightly sleep contribute greatly to one’s overall immune system and general health. Darker skinned people are generally lower in vitamin D levels due to higher melanin levels vis-a-vis lighter skinned people.

    You’re welcome, Putz.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This author went to a whole lot of trouble to make himself look like an idiot. I may not be an expert, but I’ve been reading about health topics for years, and many fine doctors and scientists have a lot to say about vitamin (hormone) D that is far more useful than any of this. Thankfully, many people above me have already explained what the author needs to hear.

    I won’t waste any more time commenting! Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. If you even tried to stop being so sanctimonious and bothered to Check covid data from India you will realise that the fatality rate is very less than more urbanised countries. And even within India villages (where farmers live) have less deaths than cities.

    Nobody wears masks or take precautions against covid in Indian villages. I live near one. Then why are the death rates not increasing? Why is nobody from my neighbouring village dying of covid?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Sheesh do you have an actual position on the topic? I couldn’t find one among the thousand words of sarcasm.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Stephanie G

    Why do you have to name call the president of the US as wizard. It’s so tacky. . Everybody is so ugly

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thomas A.

    Absence of evidence, (or disagreement with evidence, ignorance of evidence, or ), isn’t the same thing as evidence of absence. With all due respect to Mr. Schneider’s credentials for evaluating science, there are scientists and pubic health researchers with much more impressive credentials, that strongly advocate for the use of Vitamin D and have presented compelling evidence.

    Has anyone seen this evidence from Dr. Rhonda Patrick?

    Dr. Patrick, Ph.D has published a prolific amount of research on the functioning of Vitamin D at the bio-molecular level, and she is easily recognized as one of the world’s leading authorities on the micronutrient.

    In the context of Covid, she desribes how Vitamin D normalizes the renin angiotensin system, by upregulating the ACE 2 receptor and downregulating renin, which protects against ARDS (Acute Respiratory Deficiency Syndrome) and acute lung injury. She also presents evidence, that Vitamin D in the blood, by upregulating soluble ACE 2 – which then binds to and sequesters viral particles – is another mechamism of protection against severe infection. She also provides recommendations about supplementation and maintaining proper Vitamin D levels, and she reveals her own supplementation protocol.

    To anyone reading this, please do yourself a favor: Stop reading pointless, rhetorical articles and start getting the valuable information you need to protect your health from real public health authorities like Dr. Patrick.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The author is obviously a shill for some vaccine maker and uses his lack of knowledge about the workings of the immune system, immunology, nutrition etc to great effect. When he cannot dispute the science, he attacks the authors. Why doesn’t he list his conflicts of interests or maybe he cannot. This is the most unscientific and illogical argument for ignoring science, published studies, and common sense I have ever read. Vitamin D is probably the most important nutrient the body needs and uses. So important it is that every single nucleated cell int he body has a Vitamin D receptor in it and some have multiple receptors. In fact all the so called co-morbidities of COVID-19 “disease” are vitamin D deficiency problems. And Vitamin D is not even a vitamin, which he is not even aware of. It is a steroid hormone and BTW it is almost impossible to have any toxicity from it, since it is so tightly regulated in the body. The only way would be to take huge doses of calcitriol, not vitamin D3 or even 25(OH)D. What a jackarse.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ridiculous comment. I’ve only ever seen anti-vaxxers accuse people of shilling for vaccine makers; people like you should just keep out of this discussion because you undermine a valid and needed scientific debate. Even if the Vit D hypothesis is shown to be correct it’ll never stop COVID or replace the need for a safe, effective vaccine.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Lee Rudolph

    “The author is obviously a shill for some vaccine maker”.

    Leonid, you’ve been busted. Better just close down this operation, change your name, and try to start over honestly.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. A science journalist? I wonder why he hasn’t cured the world yet. He seems to be pointing to his website for his cures. Conflict of interest or politically motivated hit piece?


  16. Old School

    Aside from the race-baiting and general lack of knowledge spouted. I quit the article and went straight to the comments where I actually learned something. If this guy is trying to get comments he’s a genius.

    Liked by 1 person

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  18. Comment on HCQ, author of the study probably already read all ~130 studies so he knows does it work, you think? here start combing meta>> to summarize he can save time (because he is lazy as we all are, and instead reading papers and doing research he likes to assassinate characters (Spanish study he refers to)here is condensate image All largest-n studies summed in single graphic… Why would CDC/NIH for their recommendations refer only study that is outlier!?, and what is LD50 of HCQ, since that is only study with higher dose, and was there intent? Of course he never asked these questions, but for his convenience some info can find here ah an one more “anecdote” 3.7x, when used in hands of more skillful operators benefits go up to 10x (Zelenko, Didier) results are boolean and very hard fo falsify (DEATH that is why remdesivir study was so fishy, they moved goal posts mid study, eng goal in the ned is reduce
    ICU stay, gee how bout saving lives…no? if they could only change death numbers in the study!) and baseline is surrounding (NY had way higher CFR as baseline)… but no…Leonid, what a sad cherry-picking hack…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Leonid, I’ve followed you on Twitter for a long time and have been a big fan of your debunking work along with the excellent Elizabeth Bik. But I’m really unsure what you’re trying to achieve with these Vitamin D articles. Are you just having a cathartic rant? Because if you’re trying to change minds this approach isn’t going to work.

    There’s some very valid criticism in the comments above which I don’t want to repeat. The trouble is, there’s also some bad criticism – but the one doesn’t invalidate the other, so I encourage you to take the valid criticism on board.

    From my perspective, I’m trying to unpick the Vit D hypothesis. For reasons given in the comments above this article is completely unhelpful in doing so as it’s so hard to unpick the snide ranting from the science. Not least because you seem to skim over the science, since you seem to think it’s obvious how bad the science is. But it’s not. I’d much prefer it if you’d walk us through why you think the science is bad and leave the ranting to insinuation, rather than the other way round.

    As you admitted in a Twitter exchange, you aren’t a Vit D expert. Yet you’re gunning for people who are; you’re cherry picking the bad lines of argument while ignoring the good ones; and you’re committing the same fallacies yourself. In particular, using the fact that a few people are taking way more D than they’re supposed to and getting sick as an argument against the idea that D supplements are sufficiently low risk to be used while the evidence is weak is particularly bizarre.

    And then your sarcastic comments about there being no COVID in Marseille or Africa is even more odd. Noone sensible is suggesting that having sufficient D will provide 100% protection. But equally, just because a country is sunny doesn’t mean people aren’t deficient. On the contrary – in my experience, people in sunny countries tend to spend a lot of time indoors with their air conditioning. You seem to be making a lot of bad assumptions that are as fallacious as the people you’re criticising.

    Then there’s this strange sentence about Fauci:
    “But old age is about much more than maybe lacking some Vitamin D” – Obviously!
    “so the causality with COVID-19 severity is very strenuous there at best” – What? Why can’t it be both?

    Even if you end up being proven right about Vit D once we have enough good evidence, I really don’t see how these ranty articles are contributing to Better Science at all. As someone who’s trying to figure my way through the evidence I’d love to see articles from you that did.


    • So you say Dr Michael Holick is expert for Vitamin D whom I must take seriously and respectfully? Same goes for Dr Joachim Son-Forget, I presume?
      Do answer this, please.


      • No. I was referring to the endocrinologists you named and criticised by implication.


      • What about these two other experts I named then? No opinion?


      • You named a lot of scientists of varying levels of expertise in this field – I don’t have time right now to reread the article again as my four year old wants attention but I’m guessing you’re referring to two you named supporting your view that the Vit D hypothesis is bunk. If so, then no, I don’t really have an opinion because I completely accept that expert opinion on this is divided just as I accept that the evidence is weak and inconclusive – but only insofar as it’s an absence of evidence, rather than evidence of absence. As far as I can see, the hypothesis and mechanism both remain plausible and the question remains open.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am sorry to have disturbed you, my sincere apologies. Now I see you were so busy to put me in my place even though you have no idea which experts you have been defending from my ill-informed attacks. It would have taken you less time to look up those text bits above on Holick and Son Forget than to write your comment about your busy schedule. Hilarious.


      • Leonid, why do you take this acerbic, sarcastic approach that assumes everyone who questions you or disagrees with you in any way is arguing in bad faith? It’s really unfortunate.

        You didn’t disturb me, I wanted to make time to reply but ran out of it trying to reread your article. My daughter is now happy on a video call to family so I have a bit of time again.

        It didn’t occur to me that you were referring in your comment to Son-Forget and Holick because the former doesn’t seem to be an expert in this field and the latter appears to engage in questionable research practices, as you have done such an excellent job of highlighting. I therefore don’t really consider him to be an expert.

        I presumed therefore that you were referring to two other actual experts, and after skimming back through the article I couldn’t find others but thought I must have been missing something. A genuine misunderstanding, but one which I’m afraid is rather symptomatic of your approach I’ve noticed in your writing where you seem to assume that what’s obvious to you must be obvious to others.

        This is all a real shame. There’s clearly a lot of bunk around Vit D, just as there is around all sorts of things in science and medicine. But there should be room for nuance, and there should be room for scientific uncertainty. Fundamentally, it doesn’t follow that just because dodgy or unqualified people advocate a hypothesis with bad science that the hypothesis is somehow undermined.


      • That is a bit unfair, my first reply to your asked for your opinion on Holick and Son-Forget specifically. Look up.


      • I see. I thought my one word answer had covered that, which is why I thought you were referring to other experts. But to elucidate: no, I don’t think you should take either Holick or Son-Forget seriously – or, in the case of Holick, respectfully (I’m less sure whether Son-Forget deserves disrespect).


      • You tell me this regression curve by Son-Forget is perfectly fine, then?

        Ok. If you say this person deserves respect as a scientist, I trust you.
        Otherwise, why don’t you, you know, read my article before telling me how bad, wrong and disrespectful towards experts it is?
        There is only one study which pretends to be a clinical trial, and it is quite problematic in several aspects. Other “papers” are nothing but untenable Just So associations (except of Holicks’, that one is probably just made-up).

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, it’s pretty obviously absurd. But it’s a leap that just because I’m not sure whether he deserves disrespect I’d think that graph is OK. My only point there is that I think it often isn’t useful – and often isn’t justified – to use disrespect when pointing out that someone’s wrong about something. Maybe it’s justified in Son-Forget’s case but I don’t think you were that disrespectful, actually, as it was a real corker.

        I was just thinking about this though before I saw your reply this morning – and, actually, what I’d forgotten when I replied last night was Son-Forget’s quote tweet reply to you. That’s just not acceptable coming from a parliamentarian IMO.

        Anyway, really – I have no issue with your criticism of these two. I accept I should have been clearer in my first post that the experts I was referring to were Prof Schatz, Biesalski and Gennari. I’m not defending them either though – all I’m saying is that I think their credentials mean their comments, or recommendations, deserve more than simply out-of-hand dismissal. It’s in particular not clear why they’re so wrong to take the study seriously which you refer to as “braindead and bigoted.” I’m sure you’ve got good reasons for saying that, it’s just not clear to all your readers or to me.


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