A study from October 2020, the first randomized controlled trial of its kind, showed that high doses of vitamin D (in the form of 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. At Rootclaim, we 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. Since we published our analysis, additional studies have supported this conclusion.
See Rootclaim’s complete analysis.
Many health professionals, government officials, and other decision makers worldwide have seen the studies, but they have yet to update treatment guidelines. This delay may be due to the following:
- Not many have the background in statistics and probability required to assess the data, and distinguish it from the dozens of false claims about COVID treatments.
- 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 than face criticism for acting too soon.
- Their incentives are completely misaligned with the public. The damage to the public from using vitamin D when it isn’t effective is negligible, but the damage caused by inaction in the case that vitamin D is effective is enormous. To the decision maker in a personal capacity, the damage is similar in either case – one wrong decision on their record.
- When it comes to low-risk, low-cost treatments, decision-makers hedging their bets on inaction leads to avoidable deaths.
In this particular case the reasons to act now are 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 millions of lives that will likely be lost while waiting for further studies.
Rootclaim is willing to bet $100,000 that vitamin D is effective in reducing the severity of Covid-19.
The specifics: On September 1st, 2022, an arbitrator, agreed upon in advance, will review the evidence available by that time, and determine whether the following statement is more likely true or false: Vitamin D (in its various forms, including calcifediol) reduces the odds of ICU admission due to Covid-19 by at least 1.5.
The challenge pertains to the original strain of COVID-19, since all the publicly available data comes from studies of this strain. To clarify, we still think vitamin D is likely effective against Delta and other variants, but debating the effect on each variant adds unnecessary complexity.
This is the second in a series of Rootclaim Challenges, and 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 also implies that taking the bet would be very profitable. Therefore, any professional not accepting this challenge, is implicitly admitting that their decision not to promote the treatment is wrong.
- 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 on an arbitrator who will review the evidence.
- 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?