A recent study, the first randomized controlled trial of its kind, showed that high doses of vitamin D (calcifediol) reduce the severity of Covid-19 in hospitalized patients. The researchers reported a 30-fold(!) reduction in intensive care admissions of Covid-19 patients. We at Rootclaim analyzed these findings and concluded that even under conservative assumptions accounting for limitations in the study, the effect is still significant and likely around 5-fold. We further demonstrated that since the risks of treatment are low, this treatment protocol should be immediately implemented.

See complete analysis

Many health professionals, government officials, and other decision makers worldwide have seen the study results, but they are yet to update treatment guidelines. This may happen despite their best intentions, and their vast medical knowledge:

  • Not many have the background in statistics and probability required to assess the validity of this study, and distinguish it from the dozens of previous invalidated claims.
  • They’re affected by omission bias – they default to the “safe” alternative of inaction, waiting for more data, rather than choosing action. It’s easier to later defend inaction rather than be criticized for acting too soon. 

In this particular case the decision to act now is clear:

  • Similar treatments have been performed for decades, and the risks are known to be low, especially in this setting when patients can be monitored at the hospital.
  • The benefits of the treatment, on the other hand, are potentially enormous, effectively reducing Covid-19 severity to that of the seasonal flu.

While caution is often the correct path when dealing with public health, this is a case where decisions should be made swiftly, using the best available models. At Rootclaim we develop such models, so when our analysis exposed the implications of the new findings, we decided to promote the adoption of the proposed treatment. We hope that this unique challenge will allow the information to reach more decision makers, and save the over 100,000 lives that will likely be lost while waiting for further studies.

The Challenge

Rootclaim is willing to bet $100,000 that vitamin D (e.g. calcifediol) is effective in reducing the severity of Covid-19.

Our claim:  By April 1st, 2022, it will be accepted by health professionals that a vitamin D treatment protocol similar to that used in the study is better than existing treatments (remdesivir and corticosteroids) in reducing the odds of severe outcomes. These existing treatments are estimated to effect a 1.5 reduction in odds of admission to the ICU, which will be used as the threshold.

This challenge is intended to show that the reluctance to implement a vitamin D protocol today is irrational. A decision maker who is not pushing to adopt the proposed protocol is effectively claiming that the probability that this protocol is better than existing treatments is low. But that would also imply that taking the bet is very profitable. Therefore, any professional not accepting this challenge, is implicitly admitting that their decision not to promote the treatment is wrong.

Procedure

  • The challenger needs to show that they can commit $100,000. We are open to discussing lower or higher amounts, and the funds can be pooled from multiple sources.
  • Both sides will agree in advance on the specifics of how a winner is determined, and what arbitration mechanism to use, if need be. 
  • The challenger needs to declare that they do not have access to any relevant non-public information. This is to protect from abuse in case of unpublished research (there is still a small chance that further research will discover the treatment is ineffective).
  • For the same reason, we may update these terms or withdraw the offer, as new information emerges. Of course, once a bet is made it is final and cannot be withdrawn.

If you’re not willing to risk your own money betting against vitamin D, why are you willing to risk someone else’s life?