A growing body of published studies indicate vitamin D supplementation may allay the symptoms and severity of COVID-19 infections, enough to keep hospitalized patients out of the intensive care unit. The most recent of these studies, published in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Aug 29,2020) is more than convincing.
But this remarkable study is not likely to change the practices of modern medicine, even though it completely abolished COVID-19-related deaths in the intensive care unit (ICU) and reduced admission from a standard COVID-19 care ward to the ICU from 50% to 2%.
The study involved 76 hospitalized patients who were COVID-19-positive and had symptoms of coronavirus infection such as dry cough, shortness of breath, fever and diarrhea who were on a standard-care COVID-19 hospital ward.
Critics say the study is not large enough, co-morbid conditions such as obesity, diabetes and autoimmunity were grouped rather than identified specifically, and there were no vitamin D blood levels taken before and after treatment. Yet there were no adverse reactions. So, what harm could come from a hospital giving vitamin D to all patients on its COVID-19 ward?
THE CONVINCING DATA
The following chart reveals just 2% of COVID-19 COVID-19-infected patients given VITAMIN D25 (as prescription-only calcifediol (cal-siff-i-die-ol), needed to be transferred to the ICU (intensive care unit) from a standard care ward whereas 50% of those COVID-19 infected patients NOT given vitamin D worsened to the point where intensive care and ventilator support was required.
Non-prescription vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is converted to vitamin D25 calcifediol in the liver. Therefore Rx-only calcifediol works faster than non-Rx vitamin D3.
Vitamin D inhibits newly recognized cause of COVID-19 death
Vitamin D is known to inhibit the buildup of bradykinin (bray-dih-kî-nin), a natural internally-produced blood vessel dilator which helps control blood pressure. Excessive bradykinin can induce contraction of the bronchus, an airway to the lungs, thus impairing breathing.
For ethical reasons, vitamin D could not be compared against an inactive placebo pill. (However, there is no such thing as placebo effect, another myth of modern medicine.)
Vitamin D is also be talked about by physicians as an injectable 300,000 unit mega-dose for wintertime protection from COVID-19 coronavirus infections altogether.
Patients were selected to receive vitamin D randomly. For ethical reasons, vitamin D could not be compared against an inactive placebo pill. (However, there is no such thing as placebo effect, another myth of modern medicine.)
Financial Incentives For Treatment Not Prevention
The 49 of 50 COVID-19 patients who did not require admission to the ICU would have saved Medicare $1,274,000.
The story going around is that hospitals face a steep decline in income-generating surgical procedures in the COVID-19 era as sick patients are delaying care or even avoiding the hospital altogether. So COVID-19-generated income has to make up for lost revenues.
Hospitals have financial incentives to classify all of their acute pneumonia, sepsis, tuberculosis and other viral lung infections that require admission to the intensive care unit as COVID-19 cases because hospitals have financial incentives to do so.
A report posted at the Kaiser Family Foundation website indicates ~15% of uninsured (and presumably younger) hospitalized COVID-19 cases require hospitalization with mild cases being billed at $13,297 and severe cases (requiring ventilator support for greater than 96 hours) at $40,218. Other sources generally confirm these numbers.
According to a report in USA TODAY, for a typical case of pneumonia hospitals are reimbursed $5000; COVID-19 cases $13,000; and COVID-19 cases on ventilators at $39,000. That gives plenty of incentive for hospitals to up-code their garden-variety pneumonia cases as COVID-19.
Hopefully a Medicare audit would rectify any overbilling. But that doesn’t keep patients out of the ICU which is frankly a death arena nowadays.
Patients May Not Have Covid-19 At All
A confounding problem is that hospitalized patients with lung infections may coincidentally test positive for COVID-19 coronavirus but that may be due to prior bouts with coronaviruses or an outright false-positive blood test. For example, hospitalized patients with HIV may falsely test positive for COVID-19 coronavirus. Prior “common cold” coronavirus infections may also test positive for COVID-19. So, some patients admitted as COVID-19 positive patients may not have COVID-19 infection at all, but the hospital collects extra reimbursement over a flawed test.
To make matters worse, ICU patients are completely deprived of sun exposure which is the primary source of vitamin D. The very reason why coronavirus infections spike upwards from January to April in the northern hemisphere is because solar radiation is dimmed by the tilting of the earth away from the sun during winter months.
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