Improve public health immunity now

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THIS PETITION IS INTENDED FOR HEALTHCARE, PUBLIC HEALTH AND NUTRITION PROFESSIONALS, ACADEMICS AND SCIENTISTS TO EXPRESS AN OPINION including but not limited to medical doctors, nurses, nutritionists, dietitians, virologists, immunologists, epidemiologists and qualified care workers.  PLEASE INDICATE IN YOUR PROFILE WHICH CATEGORY YOU ARE BY INCLUDING (1) YOUR QUALIFICATION IN "YOUR NAME" LINE e.g. medical doctor, academic, scientist, nutritionist (2) YOUR JOB ROLE AND DESCRIPTION IN "ABOUT YOU" e.g. general practitioner in private practice, virologist working in academia, new product development in industry, self-employed nutritionist and (3) YOUR HOSPITAL OR OTHER EMPLOYER OR ASSOCIATED ORGANISATION IN THE "CITY" LINE e.g. St Thomas' Hospital, London; Liverpool University; Work from home, Bristol (self-employed) . YOUR DETAILS ARE REQUIRED FOR YOUR VOTE TO BE COUNTED BUT WILL REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL UNLESS MORE THAN 100 SIGNATURES ARE ADDED OR WITH YOUR WRITTEN CONSENT.  UPON 100 SIGNATURES BEING COLLECTED BY ANY MEANS A LETTER WITH THOSE SIGNATORIES WILL BE DELIVERED TO MATT HANCOCK (see below). YOU CAN OPT OUT OF THIS ARRANGEMENT BY TYPING "OPT OUT" IN YOUR NAME LINE.

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Why Some Groups Are More At Risk From COVID

We are all aware that certain groups in the population are "at risk" of  having a worse outcome in relation to COVID-19.  However, it is not only the elderly or those that are compromised by underlying health issues that are at greater risk.  Other groups are also "at risk" (such as those who are in the BAME communities, non-mobile, over-weight, immuno-suppressed to name a few). 

There are a number of reasons why these groups are more "at risk" than others but as a whole they all come within one single "at risk" group.  They all have weakened or compromised immune systems. Why?  Because it is the health of your immune system that determines whether an infection takes hold or not and how bad the resulting consequences become.  

No Guidance from Government or Public Health England

This fact puts "at risk" groups at a serious disadvantage when it comes to getting or fighting off coronavirus.  However, the vast majority in these "at risk" groups will be unaware of this disadvantage due to the lack of any advice or guidance from Government or Public Health England (PHE) that highlights how important immune health is.  Or how most people can best help themselves by improving their immune health. Thereby reducing the risk of catching or being hospitalised by the virus. 

There is therefore a need right now to counter the threat of COVID-19, to make the immune system health of the Nation as good as it can be.   By changing the message being given with a greater emphasis on prevention rather than cure, the general population and particularly those "at greater risk" can take some steps right now to improve the health of their immune system. 

How Best to Improve Your Immune Health

One of these steps is to increase the intake of 3 specific nutrients that already have a weight of clinical evidence behind them.  It has been proven either that they support immune health or that their deficiency increases the risk of getting infections, particularly upper respiratory tract infections. 

A call for the Government to provide this advice was made in an article in the British Medical Journal in April 2020 by Dr Emma Derbyshire PhD and Dr Joanne Delange PhD, see link: https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/3/1/100 . 

In this article, the authors reviewed existing clinical trials/studies and agreed that vitamins C and D plus zinc had the strongest evidence (in terms of clinical trials and studies) for immune support (citing earlier studies that came to the same conclusion). It proposed that these 3 nutrients should be supplemented by one group "at risk", those over the age of 65.

Vitamin D: Further Studies and Mainstream Support

Since then support in the mainstream press has been given to the supplementation of vitamin D as a counter to COVID-19.  Studies in relation to vitamin D have shown already that deficiency causes greater risk of catching upper respiratory tract infections (Australia 2019) and COVID patients are more likely to have deficiency (Santander 2020).   

A recent Spanish pilot clinical trial has shown that high dose vitamin D supplementation can reduce the risk of entering ICU for acute COVID-19 patients by approximately 25 times and reduce the number of deaths to zero compared to 8% in the non-vitamin D group (University Hospital, Cordoba 2020).  A 15 hospital trial is underway in Spain as a result seeking to answer a multitude of questions regarding the supplementation of vitamin D. 

High Dose Vitamin C Success against COVID

In China a recent pilot clinical trial using high dose intravenous vitamin C treatment resulted in a reduction in deaths by two-thirds when compared to the non-supplemented group (University Hospital, Wuhan 2020).  The number of participants however was not statistically relevant because they were not able to recruit enough severely ill COVID patients due, it is thought, to the provision of 50 million 1 gram doses of vitamin C to hospitalised patients and care workers in Wuhan.

Zinc Deficiency Across a Number of COVID At Risk Groups 

Zinc has been shown to be a key modulator of the immune system. A study proposing it's widespread use to counter COVID-19, highlighted the deficiency in zinc found in people with a number of underlying health issues.  Also zinc deficiency has been found in a number of other groups that are known to be "at risk" of poor outcomes after getting COVID-19. It has also been shown that supplementation of zinc reduces severity of symptoms, the frequency and duration of respiratory tract infections (Aachen University, Germany 2020)

The Immune System Needs Balance

These recent studies are the tip of the iceberg in terms of evidence of immune support. But nutrients don't work in isolation so choosing a single nutrient will not provide the best results.  A deficiency in one nutrient has also been shown to increase the risk of infection.   The immune system needs to be modulated or balanced by ensuring the principal nutrients are not deficient.  

Does Having a Vaccine Make any Difference?

All of the above is true notwithstanding that a vaccine may be available before the end of 2020.  Any vaccine will be limited in scope and won't be fully effective at least initially.  Nor will it be available to the majority of the population. 

It will potentially have unknown long-term issues due to the speed at which it has been brought to market.  But it will be given first to those people with the weakest immune systems.  Any latent flaws in the vaccine will as a result affect these people first.   

As a result, immune health still needs to be addressed so that individually for each person, the best outcome can be achieved even if a form of the vaccine arrives as expected.

Will We Get Rid of Lock-downs?

Many people have argued for lock-downs to be lifted so that the economy and normal life can resume. Without tackling the numbers of people needing medical assistance, any such arguments are destined to fail.  However, they become far more realistic if everyone's ability to deal with the coronavirus is enhanced.  Improving your immune health will undoubtedly achieve this with the resultant reduction in hospitalisations if the supplementation of the top 3 nutrients is widespread.  

The Aim of this Petition

This Petition is therefore seeking support for the views expressed by Emma Derbyshire and Joanne Delange (citing the study by Adrian Gombart,  Adeline Pierre and Silvani Maggini). However, we propose to extend their request by asking the Government to advise supplementation of the top 3 nutrients to support the immune system (vitamins C & D plus zinc) for not only those over 65 years of age but to all groups that are at risk of poor outcomes in relation to COVID-19 or who are in general circulation for whatever reason. 

By signing this Petition you will be putting your name to the following letter to Matt Hancock which will be sent when 100 or more valid votes or signatures have been collected by any means:

Letter to Matt Hancock

Dear Mr Hancock,

We are writing collectively with a view to assisting the Government's advice and strategy on dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic.  We believe the time has come for Government to start providing guidance on how the people of the UK can support their immune systems, giving a significantly better outcome against COVID-19, reduce hospitalisations and improve public confidence. 

Recent press articles and studies have already brought to the attention of the British public the deficiencies in more than 1 in 5 of the population of Vitamin D.  This proportion rises substantially as a result of ethnicity and age to one-third of the population or more.

Studies have shown that deficiency in vitamin D increases the risk of catching upper respiratory tract infections and, recently, this evidence has been extended directly to COVID-19.  Due to clinical trials in Spain, not only is deficiency in vitamin D linked to COVID patients but supplementation reduced the risk of being admitted to ICU by 25 times and reduced deaths to zero in the same pilot.

The provision of high dose vitamin C to acute COVID patients in China and lower doses to other hospitalised patients has via a pilot clinical trial (subject to peer review) resulted in a reduction of the mortality rate for COVID by two-thirds.     

However, these trials and studies are the tip of the ice-berg.  Many more studies have shown that other vitamins and minerals have the same positive effect of preventing and fighting infections. 

In an article in the British Medical Journal in April 2020, see link https://nutrition.bmj.com/content/3/1/100 Dr Emma Derbyshire PhD and Dr Joanne Delange PhD called for the Government to advise the UK population, particularly those over 65,  to take 3 key nutrients because they had the strongest evidence (in terms of trials and studies) for immune support:  Vitamins C & D plus Zinc. 

As well as deficiencies in vitamin D being linked to COVID, deficiencies in Zinc are also well documented and none of us produce our own Vitamin C. 

We are therefore supportive of the article in the British Medical Journal mentioned above but wish the Government to go further.  

We believe it would be beneficial to those in all groups of the population that are most at risk of contracting COVID-19 either due to age, health, weight or ethnicity or as a result of being in general circulation, to support their immune system on a daily basis with sufficient levels of these 3 key nutrients: vitamins C and D plus zinc.  This would be beneficial in terms of being able to fight off infection and in terms of improving COVID-19 outcomes thus reducing hospitalisations. 

Why 3 nutrients instead of just vitamin D?  Because the immune system needs to be in balance to work normally.  Just adding vitamin D for some people may work but proposing 3 key nutrients has the best chance of supporting the whole immune system.  More widespread benefits would result. 

It would also be beneficial to improve the Nation's immune health even if a vaccine arrives in time to potentially end the pandemic before Easter. Any vaccine at least initially is likely to be limited in scope and/or effect. So to achieve the best outcome for everyone, it would be advisable for the Government to give guidance so that immune health is improved immediately.  

We would be prepared to meet with you or your advisers to discuss the evidence with a view to assisting with developing a strategy to fight COVID-19 by improving the Nation's collective immune system health and in addition, providing confidence to keep the economy moving by so doing.

Yours sincerely