Vitamin D
Vitamin D

This comment piece first appeared in the Evening Standard.

With three coronavirus vaccines now tantalisingly in sight but out of reach to most of us outside the 80-plus age group while a new variant spreads like wildfire through the capital, people understandably want out of endless lockdowns and crave a return to normality.

One solution that could be recommended much more emphatically by government is vitamin D. Although its main source — sunlight — is in short supply right now, and indeed most of the year round in these dark and dingy isles, inexpensive supplements are widely available for pennies.

If we’re following the science, multiple studies show vitamin D not only prevents respiratory tract infections but when administered to Covid-19 patients has dramatically reduced the need for intensive care treatment. Since the summer, when new evidence first emerged, the Government has shifted somewhat from outright denial of any causal connection between Covid and vitamin D to Matt Hancock accepting that it has benefits and “no downsides”.

This should be shouted from the rooftops but it feels the properties of this wonderstuff are being comparatively hushed up. Perhaps it’s because big pharma is not involved, or because the vitamin industry is often viewed with suspicion, or maybe it is the distinct lack of glamour in cheap, over-the-counter pills available from supermarkets compared with jabs in the arm.
The official guidance slipped out on December 22 advising everyone to take vitamin D in autumn/winter is buried so deep in the avalanche of information on you’d be hard pressed to locate it without prior knowledge, and it’s needed 365 days a year.

As for the accompanying offer of four months’ supply free of charge to 2.7 million defined extremely clinically vulnerable people, they had to actively “opt-in” themselves by January 4. Given Christmas and the new year, I can’t imagine that there has been a huge stampede.

The failed tiers experiment couldn’t prevent London being declared a major incident; its hospitals are now at capacity. Many adults won’t get a sniff of any vaccine until autumn. Until then taking vitamin D offers us all hope to stamp out this dreaded disease.

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