Stimulating our immune system: an urgent health imperative

Paul Lannoye, Honorary Member of the European Parliament, columnist for the newspaper Kairos, and Catherine Uyttenhove, Doctor of Science and immunologist, sent this letter to the members of the Consultation Committee last week. Because if for months the politicians have been focusing on individual responsibility, prevention by simple and inexpensive means is completely absent from official speeches. 

In his statement on Friday, October 30, the Prime Minister called on everyone to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He strongly emphasized the imperative of respecting the barriers and adhering with conviction to the rules established by the consultation committee. We have the right to wonder: why is there no word on prevention and the best choices to make to strengthen our immune system? However, we know the essential role it plays in resisting attacks from viruses or pathogenic bacteria.

We have the right to wonder: why is there no word on prevention and the best choices to make to strengthen our immune system?

It is not disputed that certain deficiencies in essential elements of our body are detrimental to the optimal functioning of our immunity. This is the case of zinc, vitamin C and also vitamin D. 

With regard to vitamin D in particular, it is known that a large part of the population of our country is deficient, especially during the winter period. The explanation lies in the fact that vitamin D is synthesized in the dermis by the action of ultraviolet rays (UV‑B) from the sun. The diet contributes, but not much, to the vitamin D content of our body.

A meta-analysis published by the British Medical Journal showed that vitamin D can protect
effectively against acute respiratory diseases (…) Recently Irish researchers found a statistically significant correlation between low vitamin D levels and deaths from Covid-19 in Europe

Vitamin D plays a major role in the intestinal absorption of calcium and its fixation in the bones. But it also has other effects.
It has a preventive action in the development of autoimmune diseases or diseases with an autoimmune component (multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus)(1). In addition, in 2017, a meta-analysis of 25 studies involving 11,000 patients, published by the British Medical Journal(2) showed that vitamin D can effectively protect against acute respiratory illness. 

Recently Irish researchers found a statistically significant correlation between low vitamin D levels and deaths from Covid-19 in Europe(3). They suggest that optimizing vitamin D levels is likely to reduce serious complications related to COVID-19. They explain that vitamin D probably plays an important role in mitigating or even suppressing the inflammatory storm that characterizes acute respiratory distress syndrome and often results in patient death.

In April 2020, two doctors from Liège already advised Belgian citizens to take a vitamin D supplement during confinement, arguing that it has a protective effect(4)On May 22, 2020, the French National Academy of Medicine recommended, albeit in very measured terms, a vitamin D supplementation, « which cannot be considered as a cure.
as a preventive or curative treatment for SARS-COV2 infection, but could be considered as an adjunct to any form of therapy, mitigating the inflammatory storm. »(5)

On the preventive role of vitamin D, a 2010 Danish study(6) highlighted the critical role it plays in the activation of T cells, which are essential in immune protection against viruses.(7)

In conclusion, it seems to be well established that vitamin D supplementation should be recommended to all our fellow citizens. After medical advice to optimize its dosage, it can only be beneficial, by its preventive action, but also by its recognized action against the inflammatory storm in severe cases of Covid-19.

At a time when calls for help from the medical profession and hospital staff are becoming more and more urgent, and when faced with the risk of overcrowding, it would be logical to make all our fellow citizens aware of the benefits of simple and inexpensive measures that stimulate their immune system.

Paul Lannoye, Honorary Member of the European Parliament
Founding member of Grappe
Catherine Uyttenhove , Doctor of Science — immunologist

Notes et références
  1. Rapport de l’Académie nationale française de Médecine. Statut vitaminique, rôle
    extra osseux et besoins quotidiens en vitamine D, Bull. Acad. Natle. Med. 2012.
  2. A.Martineau et al. : Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract
    infections : systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant date ; BMJ
    2017 ; 356 doi.
  3. E.Laird, J.Rhodes et R.A.Kenny : Vitamine D et inflammation : Potential implications
    for severity of Covid-19 ; mai 2020. Irish Medical Journal.
  4. Communiqué des professeurs Etienne Cavalier (chimie clinique) et Michel Moutschen
    (maladies infectieuses) du CHU de Liège, 2 avril 2020.
  5. Communiqué de l’Académie nationale française de Médecine, Vitamine D et Covid -
    19, 22 mai 2020.
  6. M.Rode von Essen et al. : Vitamin D controls T cell antigen receptor signaling and
    activation of human cells, dans Nature immunology, mars 2010.
  7. Eshani M. King : T‑cells are Superstars in Fighting Covid-19 – But Why are Some
    People So Poor at Making Them ? , Evidence Research in Immunology and Health, 24
    september 2020, CHD.‑cells-are-the-

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