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Opinion: Informed choices important

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By William Weirick

Among the basic tenets of a free society are free speech and a free press. These tenets are essential support for free citizens making informed choices. It is especially important to have access to the broadest range of opinions and evidence when making judgments regarding health and bodily autonomy. 

Foundational for the Age of Enlightenment was the premise that credibility must be earned by reason and evidence, not conveyed solely by claimed authority.  This is a core element of the actual practice of science, in contrast to scientism, which advances the premise that truth is arbitrated by authority. 

Toward that end, we all should appreciate our local newspaper’s commitment to these basic principles. 

We all should appreciate a forum for competing opinions and the evolving evidence about the nature of the COVID challenge. 

Understanding this challenge is clearly evolving. The claim of purely zoonotic origins has been displaced by emerging evidence of laboratory involvement. Initially, public health policies were aimed at eradication, now World Health Organization leaders stipulate eradication is not possible while stating this respiratory virus will continue to circulate much like influenza. 

Initially, claims were made that vaccination stops infection. Now we know that the mRNA vaccines are therapeutic, but not totally prophylactic. Virus circulation continues among both vaccinated and unvaccinated. Initially, vaccination efficacy greater than 50% was represented as lasting for years; now we know this only lasts for months.

A clear preponderance of evidence contradicts the premise that the only thing each one of us can do is get vaccinated and wear masks.  Evidence instead is consistent with the premise that vaccinated or unvaccinated, practicing masking or not, each one of us should seek to manage our health to reduce co-morbidities associated with bad COVID-19 infection outcomes. 

Three prominent ones are obesity, an immunocompromised state, and cardiovascular disease. Each one of these can be improved by individual health management choices. Given the overwhelming evidence that vaccination does not eliminate transmission nor infection, it makes sense to manage one’s health, regardless of your vaccination status. 

Let’s take just one aspect of individual health management: Vitamin D. Way before COVID-19 studies showed widespread deficiency among populations living in latitudes away from the equator. For example, an article titled “The vitamin D deficiency pandemic:…,” Reviews in Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders (June, 2017), states that this is a global health issue affecting more than 1 billion people with this deficiency being associated with a “myriad of acute and chronic illnesses” including autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular disease.  In other words, if you are not getting enough direct sun or eating a lot of fish and/or organ meats, you may have one of the conditions associated with major COVID-19 comorbidities.

An article titled “Vitamin D Deficiency and the COVID-19 pandemic,” published in the Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance (May, 2020), reviewed 25 randomized controlled trials with the 14 authors representing academic medical departments from around the world. This review concluded that “vitamin D deficiency is an easily modifiable risk factor of acute respiratory illnesses (including COVID-19) and should be actively corrected through inexpensive, safe, and readily available vitamin D supplements.”  

An article published in 2021 titled “Effects of Vitamin D on COVID-19  Infection and Prognosis” in the Journal of  Risk Management and Healthcare Policy concluded the preponderance of evidence shows “blood Vitamin D status can determine the risk of being infected with COVID-19, seriousness of COVID-19, and mortality from COVID-19.” 

‏Regardless of vaccination status, it seems clear you want to keep you immune system as healthy as possible.  Adequate Vitamin D is a necessary condition for human immunological health. To suggest that the “only” measure one can take to reduce COVID-19 risk is to vaccinate and mask is fundamentally contradicted by our understanding of human biology and the preponderance of observational data. 

– William Weirick lives in Ojai 

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