COVID-19 deaths can be stopped with vitamin D3 - but we must act fast #dbcv19

The potentally deadly sepsis - including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome  (ARDS) - which COVID-19 causes in some people can be prevented by ensuring everyone has adequate vitamin D3, such as by taking 5000IU a day.

6th April: I am working on some updates. Please check back around 8 April for an improved version.  Please also note the following article:

Evidence that Vitamin D Supplementation Could Reduce Risk of Influenza and COVID-19 Infections and Deaths
William B. Grant et al. Nutrients 2020, 12(4), 988

It is recommended that people at risk of influenza and/or COVID-19 consider taking 10,000 IU/d of vitamin D3 for a few weeks to rapidly raise 25(OH)D concentrations, followed by 5000 IU/d. The goal should be to raise 25(OH)D concentrations above 40–60 ng/mL (100–150 nmol/L).

This is an introduction to the material in the page and others which branch from it. I am an electronic technician and computer programmer with no medical training.  What counts here is the research articles I link to, including:
  1. In 2015 research , the only people who got ARDS were those with very low vitamin D3.

  2. The title of this 2014 study de Haan et al. 2014 is self explanatory: Vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for infection, sepsis and mortality in the critically ill: systematic review and meta-analysis
This and other research convinces me that:
  1. Sepsis - including ARDS - is the only reason people are seriously harmed or killed by COVID-19 or influenza.

  2. While it is possible that some people dying from COVID-19-induced sepsis made the infection much worse by lowering their fever with antipyretic drugs (see #fever below), none of these people would need breathing support or be at risk of dying if they had good vitamin D levels.

  3. If every adult took 5000IU vitamin D3 a day (perhaps some children need supplements too), no-one would be dying from COVID-19. 
Several doctors recommend that all adults take 5000IU vitamin D3 a day.  Professor Paul Marik MD, intravenous vitamin C pioneer from

Robin Whittle . 2020-04-02  Last update 2020-04-03 14:30  AEDT

(WP) is a link to a relevant Wikipedia page.

Beyond the current plan of hunkering down and fearing the worst - as if we can do nothing more than slow the progression of the disease

We should do all we can to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections, build hospital capacity and use antiviral drugs.  However, if this is all we do the outcome will still be disastrous: some mix of terrible suffering, disability and death AND massive economic and social damage. 

We could handle most people getting the virus in the next few months - and so get back to business and living - if we could eliminate the most serious symptoms and most or all of the deaths.  First the background to how we can do it.  Then The Plan!

Vitamin D and sepsis

All the serious consequences of COVID-19 arise from the immune system, of some people, being triggered by the virus into a state of sepsis (WP).  This is a disregulated, haywire, overly-aggressive, pro-inflammatory attack on the body's cells - not just those infected by the virus. 

Cytokine storm (WP)refers to an excessive level of pro-inflammatory compounds which drive this destructive inflammation and attacks on the body's healthy cells.  Interleukin 6 (WP), Tumor Necrosis Factor (WP) and some other interleukins are the primary horsemen of this apocalypse.  All this is complex and subject to ongoing research.  For instance IL-6 can be anti-inflammatory if produced in muscles without TNF.

From an article from Wuhan (see the main page ../ for all the details) we see patients with stable IL-6 levels survived, but if IL-6 kept rising, the patients eventually died.

Fei Zhou et al. Clinical course and risk factors for mortality COVID-19 cytokine storm interleukin 6 IL-6 keeps rising until the sepsis kills the patient non-survivors

The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a particularly strong trigger for sepsis, since it reduces the number of ACE2 enzymes, which disturbs the renin-angiotensin system which controls blood pressure and local functions of many organs.  Still, the sepsis itself is the problem. 

At first it fills the lungs with fluid.  If the sepsis continues, this leads to Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS WP).  Without medical care, the person dies.  With acute medical care and a ventilator, the patient will die within hours or days unless the sepsis is stopped, since it damages the heart, liver and/or kidneys - and ventilators mechanically damage the weakened lungs.  Ventilated patients who survive will probably have lasting disabilities.

2015 research shows that patients with ARDS, triggered by various types of infection and illness, had one striking thing in common: they all had very low levels of vitamin D: 8ng/ml or less.  

ARDS patients have very low vitamin D vitamin D3 deficiency

Such low levels are common, especially among the elderly.  Any adult who gets little sun, has no vitamin D3 supplements, and eats little oily fish, is especially at risk. Dark skinned people who rarely get direct sunlight are especially at risk.  There's not enough sun in winter anyway.  In Scotland, for instance, 33% of the population have less than 10ng/ml and 12% less than 6ng/ml. This makes them very high risk for ARDS and other forms of sepsis if and when they get COVID-19.

5,000IU of vitamin D3 a day will raise an average weight person's blood level to 50ng/ml, which means their chance of suffering from numerous chronic and acute diseases is greatly reduced.  This sounds like a lot, but it is 1/8000 of a gram.  At this rate, 4.5 grams would last 100 years. 

A 2016 trial give us some idea of how important low vitamin D levels are to people getting sick enough to go to hospital, and to how quickly they recover. 

ICU patients who were given 100,000IU a day for five days got out of hospital, on average, after 18 days, while patients with similar initial conditions who had none got out, on average, 36 days later.  Another group of patients took 50,000IU a day for five days, and got out of hospital, on average, after 25 days.  Vitamin D3 takes a few days or weeks to be converted by the liver into its active form, and it makes sense to start with an initial high dose like this if a deficiency must be corrected urgently.

This 500,000IU dose may seem scarily large, but it is 12.5 milligrams.  A kilogram of USP grade cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) costs USD$2,500 from factories in China.  It is also made in India.  Cholesterol, I think from wool fat, is exposed to UVB light and the resulting mixture is refining it to extract the D3. 1kg would provide 500,000IU for 80,000 people.

The Vitamin D3 Plan

This plan is for Western countries, but in principle it could apply to any country.  I present it as if it is coordinated by government authorities, but it could also be an ad-hoc development.  There's a special place in HELL for hoarders and profiteers.  Ideally they would do prison time first.

The first step is for all healthcare workers and other essential services people to use current stocks of vitamin D capsules to get a good dose such as 100,000IU to 500,000IU.  This includes everyone who produces, transports and sells food and groceries.  Likewise those who maintain roads, electricity, gas, water and telecommunications infrastructure.  Public transport workers are essential too. This includes police, armed forces and emergency services workers.  Everyone who is in hospital, aged care facilities and prisons should also get a big dose immediately.

Meanwhile, we need, for a country the size of the USA, 4,000kg of vitamin D ASAP, to be made into capsules each containing 12.5mg.  Every adult gets one of these and so will have far less chance of needing acute hospital care, or of suffering lasting disability and death. 

Then, we won't have to attempt the impossible: shutting everything down for 6 months or more - while dealing with millions of people getting seriously ill and dying. 

While the capsules are being made and distributed, everyone needs to get as much sun as they can, eat oily fish, and take vitamin D capsules if they are available.  Tanning beds will be hip again!  Hang the skin cancer risk for now.

This plan would have its challenges, but is vastly easier and less disruptive than the current plan for strangling restrictions for months on end, with the hospitals still being overloaded with some fraction of the population - maybe 20% - needing acute medical care.

Why we are prone to sepsis

The enemy is not COVID-19 - it is our immune system.  Other viruses such as HIV and smallpox  really are deadly enemies - but influenza, SARS and the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes COVID-19 are only deadly because they trigger a fundamental flaw in the immune systems of humans who no longer live a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

There are two reasons why this immune system can be triggered into an overly-aggressive pro-inflammatory state.  The first is that the digestive systems of our ancestors - going back tens of millions of years into mammalian history, and until the last century or so - were almost always infested by intestinal worms, also known as helminths.  These secrete substances which downmodulate some aspects of our immune  response to them.  I recall reading that Helicobacter pylori (WP)does the same thing. So our immune system evolved to be much more aggressive than is optimal.

In the last one or two hundred years, most humans have gotten rid of these helminths - for good reason, since many of them are extremely pernicious.  The trouble is that now our immune systems can attack us, leading to a plethora of auto-immune, inflammatory and degenerative diseases.

This is tricky to fix with drugs, but research into these is continuing.  In the meantime, some people infect themselves with the relatively benign pig whipworm (WP) in order to downregulate their immune system.  This can save their life when it puts their Crohn's disease (WP)or asthma into partial or complete remission.  See helminthic therapy.

The second reason is that modern diets are deficient in a number of nutrients which are vital for immune system regulation.  Vitamin D and boron are the most important.  They work together to some extent, but one can't replace the other.

Even those with the lowest levels of vitamin D have about 20% of what they need to be replete.  With boron, the situation is more extreme.  Most people get only 1mg a day, when 10 to 12mg is needed for full health, including avoiding osteoporosis, periodontal disease and the same long list of diseases caused by excessive inflammation which vitamin D helps us avoid. 

Please read this review article Nothing Boring about Boron if you doubt this: PMC4712861/ .  Please also take a look at NIH's fact sheet, decades of research by the US Department of Agriculture's Forrest Nielsen and a Google Scholar search for boron and inflammation

Next, try the word inflammation with each of these: "vitamin D", Alzheimers, Parkinsons, "Lewy bodies", neurodegeneration, arthritis, osteoporosis, gingivitis, periodontal, asthma, "type 2 diabetes", autoimmune, chronic, cancer, influenza and so on.  There's a correlation between periodontal disease and Alzheimer's disease.  No-one seems to know why, yet inappropriate inflammation, which I think can be largely or entirely fixed with adequate vitamin D and boron, is the obvious common factor. 

The Boron Plan

Boron supplementation is easy, cheap, safe and will probably protect people from sepsis faster than vitamin D3.  "Probably" is my opinion. I have several hundred  boron nutrition articles printed out, partly read over the past few years - so I have read more about this than most doctors and medical researchers. 

Everything we need is sitting on supermarket shelves, in the laundry department.

Borax is mined primarily in California and Turkey.  It is refined into crystals and sold for a plethora of industrial purposes, not least as a water softener for laundry.  Borax is used in supplements for arthritis and other conditions.  The laundry variety is pure enough for human consumption in the small quantities required.  100mg a day in water solution provides a perfectly healthy 11.4mg boron.  My wife Tina and I take this every day.  The feline equivalent of 6mg a day (0.6mg = one part boron per 10,000,000 body weight) seems to have cured our cat's feline tooth resorption - gingivitis with crumbling teeth which need to be extracted.

Even a few mg of boron a day is likely to help our immune system regulate itself properly.  This would also reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 leading to sepsis.  But first, we have to have a little talk about boron and borax (sodium tetraborate).

Boron sounds like boring and rhymes with moron. Borax is a great name for a bossy 1950s-style household cleaning agent.  Borax was overused as a meat preservative until the early 20th century and has spent the last century standing at the back of the class wearing a dunce's cap.  Borax and boric acid are good for poisoning ants and cockroaches. (Vitamin D3, in huge quantities - tactfully labeled as cholecalciferol - is widely used as rat poison.  It would poison us too if we ate the same amount in proportion to body weight that rats eat.)  Despite decades of research on the boron's essential role in human health (Forrest Nielsen 2011), boron's exact role in human biology is only partly understood.  Boron is not officially regarded as an essential nutrient for humans or other animals.  Its reputation as a poison is still alive in the minds of the public, but, as borax, the tolerable upper intake levels for adults was set in 2001 to 20mg, which is 175mg of borax.  If I had mentioned boron or borax in the title of this piece, many people would have run screaming in the opposite direction.

The above notes are of psychological interest, but do not alter the fact that laundry borax is (see regarding purity) is a perfectly good source of boron, which will improve bone health and immune system regulation. 

IF I am right to assume that COVID-19 is not deadly or seriously harmful as long as our body fights it properly, without falling into sepsis, then with significant extra vitamin D3 and/or boron, we won't have to worry much about COVID-19 harming or killing us or our loved ones.  See the above chart.  The only people who died from it in this Wuhan study were those whose sepsis cytokine storm kept getting worse.

There are no randomised controlled trial which show beyond reasonable doubht that boron supplements reduce sepsis, but if you read even a fraction of the material on boron and inflammation, you will see that it this is a likely outcome.

The beauty of borax is that there's plenty of it around and all we need to do is this:

If you don't have milligram scales, a heaped teaspoon of borax is 6 to 8 grams.  Divide this visually into four, and use each quarter for 2 litres of water.  Now drink 100ml of this a day - 50ml in the morning and 50ml at night if you like, since its half-life in the body is quite short.  100ml is 1/20 of the 2 grams you added to the 2 litres: 100mg. Multiply by 0.114 and you have 11.4mg of boron.  After a few days or weeks, you will be boron replete. 

Maybe 6mg would be sufficient.  12mg is nowhere near actual levels of toxicity, which are well beyond 20mg a day. 

Even if your vitamin D3 levels are not ideal, your immune system will be far better regulated than those of the vitamin D3 depleted (common) AND boron-very-depleted (almost everyone) people who suffer badly when COVID-19 triggers their immune system into sepsis.

Many farm animals get better dietary care than most humans do now.  If pigs' bones develop wrongly farmers don't drug them - they fix the nutritional deficiency which causes it, by adding borax to their feed. Boron Supplementation Prevents Osteochondrosis in Growing Swine (2005) PDF .

While I have no concerns about bringing people's vitamin D3 levels up to a healthy state, there are two probably minor gotchas with boron that I am aware of.  Firstly, some people in health discussion forums report a "Herxheimer" reaction when they first use it. They attribute this to dead bacteria, candida toxins or whatnot.  This may not be valid or common - but it should be researched.  The other is that Iranian researchers report that giving 10mg of boron a day to a bunch of subjects with ultrasound-confirmed kidney stones caused all the stones to disintegrate and come out in the days and weeks which followed.  This is an excellent outcome, and not surprising considering the involvement of excessive inflammation in all sorts of diseases.  However, fragments of kidney stones can be very painful and trigger urinary tract infections.  This is a particular concern for the elderly.  Please see the boron section of the main page for references:

How could it be so simple?

At this point, doctors, ICU nurses and some researchers will be questioning how something so complex as sepsis, and the dozens of diseases caused by excessive inflammation, could have such a simple cause and so such a simple fix.  I guess they are thinking:

"How could the cause of something so complex - something we spend years learning about and wrestling with . . . how could it be so simple?"

See the discussion of Paul E. Marik MD's intravenous vitamin C and B1 protocol for treating sepsis.  Vitamin C is severely depleted in sepsis but is vital for dozens of processes throughout the body.  The B1 is to reduce the rate at which is converted into harmful oxalates.  This is very simple compared to the barrage of drugs, ventilation etc. and the storm of dysfunction which is wracking these people's bodies.  They get results - more patients who live than before.

In the second video, Kathi Hudgkins, ICU Team Coordinator at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital said of the time when the vitamin C therapy was first introduced:

"This had to be some sort of fallacy. It just seemed too simple."

An over-zealous immune system, unconstrained by helminths, plus serious deficiencies in both vitamin D and boron.  This is a lot simpler than all these disease processes.  But it makes perfect sense.

Carry on . . .

There's nothing in this plan which should make anyone complacent.  We need social distancing now and for a while yet to get this accepted by doctors and reasonably well accepted by the public - though the boron plan could be running for entire countries in a few days. 

Adults not yet infected should consider taking vitamin C, zinc and other items (including 5,000IU vitamin D3) as listed in the prophylaxis section of Paul Marik's Protocol  EVMS Critical Care COVID-19 Management Protocol, also known as the Marik Protocol, from the Eastern Virginia Medical School:

The 31st March version recommended these supplements for all adults before they contract COVID-19, but is primarily intended for those over 60 and those with diabetes, lung conditions, heart disease etc.
We still need to avoid excessive salt.  See the articles at ../#salt .  Smoking, vaping and excessive alcohol are out too.

Adequate supplemental vitamin D3 and/or boron will enable us to handle this virus without major disruption, serious injury or death.


Fever is our friend

Most people want to know whether or not to quell COVID-19 fever, such as with aspirin, ibuprofen or paracetamol (AKA acetaminophen = Tylenol).  This is a vexed question among doctors and the medical establishment has so far failed to provide the clear guidance the public needs.

I reviewed the research and found that it was clearly against quelling fever - from bacterial or viral infections - with drugs or other means except in cases of stroke, neurological injury, heart disease or perhaps temperatures over 40C.  Some doctors say paracetamol is fine to use - but I think they haven't read the research.

The best research I found was this widely cited article from 2015: PMC4786079/ .  I found nothing which superseded or contradicted it.  If you want to see highlights from it, and links to other such research articles, please see my page .  Don't take my word for this - follow the links, read the research I found, look for more research and let me know if you find something contrary to what I wrote above.

Beyond the coronavirus

Assuming that the value of vitamin D3 and boron supplementation becomes widely accepted there are further nutrients which deserve our attention.

The most important one is potassium.  By avoiding the saltiest foods and adding 2.4 grams of supplemental potassium, we can approximately double our potassium intake and increase our potassium to sodium ratio by a factor of about 3.  This will solve most of the problems with high blood pressure, so few people will need drugs for this.  This will greatly reduce the risk of stroke, and provide a plethora of other subtle and pervasive health benefits, since it improves the electrical and ionic balance of every cell in our body. 

Most people think potassium supplementation can't be done.  The quantities are too big for pills or capsules, and most people think that we can't do it with water solutions since potassium salts have too strong a taste.  It is not widely known, but potassium gluconate solution has a very mild taste. Please see ../kna .

If everyone took these supplements: vitamin D3, boron and potassium (as gluconate solution) in suitable quantities, then there would be less trouble with auto-immune diseases.  However, there may still be work to do in order to tone down aspects of our immune system to optimal, not so self-destructive, levels, as our ancestors' intestinal worms did.

With this, and proper attention to many other better known nutrients (and perhaps a few ones we don't currently recognise) the whole of humanity would be much healthier, happier and more productive. 

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© 2020 Robin Whittle   Daylesford, Victoria, Australia