Blacks, COVID-19 and vitamin D

Letters to the Editor

Blacks, COVID-19 and vitamin D

Thursday, May 21, 2020

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Dear Editor,

There has been an explained disparity between the numbers of COVID-19 related deaths of black people compared to those of their Caucasian counterparts. Surveys have considered and, as a result, ruled out socio-economic differences, as the same results obtained in the well-remunerated professional classes, such as doctors and registered nurses.

This is a clear case for the predominance of nature over nurture. So what is so wrong with being black?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question, has been obscured by three factors. The first is professional bias. In his 2007 book with same title as the question, Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo suggested that it was nothing except merely for the ethnicity's irreverence to our Divine Creator. A pan-Africanist artist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, or a Chinese/Asian shopkeeper would each give extremely opposing views.

Secondly, ulterior motives abound. These range from ramping up support for acknowledgement of, and reparation for, claimed damages to a people by another, to the genocidal meditations of racist hatemongers.

The third factor rests in the biblical saying, “The stone that the builder refuse shall be the head cornerstone.” The rejected stone, or answer, often has favourability issues relating to aesthetics and sensitivity. How offensive, and racist, it would seem to say that it is because “they” are black why they die or suffer, or do this and that, but such comments underscore the true answer.

Recent studies have revealed that vitamin D deficiency appears to be highly influential in COVID-19-related mortality and its pathophysiology. Incidentally, the darker the complexion of an individual is the less efficient his/her skin's ability in converting its exposure to sunlight to endogenous vitamin D by several factors; this is adaptive, and not abnormal.

It also so happens that vitamin D is implicated in neuromuscular, psychological, gut, dental, and orthopaedic, skin, and immunological health — the latter being scientifically shown to be implicated in hypertension and diabetes, which are also observed risk factors in COVID-19 mortality.

Fortunately, generations of Jamaicans have been saved by old trends of drinking cod liver oil, and later on enriched Lasco. These important and common sources of vitamin D have had a rippling intergenerational beneficial effect, as healthiness, like vulnerabilities, are transmissible from parents to offspring. Vitamin D supplementation, and the awareness of its importance, might be the single most significant gift from God to the black race — after the darkness of our skins, of course.


Andre O Sheppy

Norwood, St James

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