Flowers Watered With Tears / Vitamin D Can Protect From Covid-19 / School Calendar

Flowers Watered With Tears

“Feed your Faith
and doubt
will starve to death.”

Yes, that's me on the swing I loved at South Elementary (the school was gone but the swing still there).

Yes, that’s me on the swing I Loved at South Elementary
(the school was gone by 1984, but the swing and the Joyful
memories remained). This is where I learned that Joy is the
most important thing that happens in school,
and in Life.

 “It is very easy to think about Love.
It is very difficult to Love.
It is very easy to Love the whole World.
The real difficulty is to Love
  a single Human Being.”
Osho

I seem to be in tears again,
as I share with you another story of my Life. Well, here I am again. I am having to dry my eyes to see the computer screen. But I have a large box of tissues and a back up box. So, perhaps, I can finish this tragedy. It may lead you to understand why LeVonna and I detest and abhor alcohol and the deceptively alluring commercials that alter the truth to paint a misleading rosy picture about this highly addictive and horribly destructive bacterial excrement.

Many years ago I fell in Love.
It was with a truly Beautiful Heart that belonged to a substitute teacher. Her name was Nona Baggett. And I am sad that I have no photograph of her.

Unbelievably,
the school superintendent would not employ her full-time,
I later learned, because she was not mean spirited enough.
She was not “tough” enough. She did not thrash the students with her tongue or beat them with a board the way so many others did.
In this High School, a harsh and demeaning manner was considered imperative and normal. Everyone just tried to survive.


 

It was my guess, from observing, that no one around really ever read the New Testament of Jesus Christ.
But Nona Baggett did.
And she lived according to its Beautiful Teachings.
Her Life became such a marvelous example
for me and so many others.

The fragrance of her Being,
the Essence of her Existence,
was far more influential in my Life,
than I can convey to you in mere words.
She made me want to be a good person.
With her by my side, I fell in Love with Life.
And, she shared with me
that there was much about Life to Love.

Essentially, what I remember from being
in the secondary school classes was this:
kids were perpetually and constantly being disciplined.
Very few were the moments that were inspiring and truly educational. The Wiktionary defines very few as – almost none.
It is accurate.

The horrendous situation I found myself in reminds me of what one of our remarkably bright students told Mrs. A, when asked what he thought about the school he came from (another public school). He was only five or six at the time. He looked into LeVonna’s eyes, and with a depth of sincerity very sadly said,
“Oh, I like learning, but we don’t get to do much of that.”
Yes, we enrolled this fine young man.

Back to my story – what I fondly remember about this remarkable substitute teacher was that she was always, and I do mean always, Kind and Compassionate. Her soft voice still echoes in my thoughts. Her Loving manner, I feel to this day. Her example, I try to live by.

Some of the other kids, at the end class, would boast and coldly remark things like, “We ate her lunch. She did not know what hit her!” There were many unkind statements like that. But she never lost focus, never lost control of her demeanor, and left at the end of each day letting those “rascals” know that she really cared for them and Loved each one of them. She was – remarkable.

“Your Life
may be the only Bible
some people read.”

Finis and Gladys loved living on the lake.

Finis and Gladys Loved living on the lake.

But I had no idea just how remarkable she really was. It took several years to discover the depth of sorrow carved into her Heart. It was so deep, that she came to treat every child, including me, as if he was one of her own. Her Beautiful Life, and the unconditional Love she felt for all those around her, led me to a remarkable insight, a simple truth –

“The deeper sorrow is carved
into your Heart,
the more Love
it can contain.”

And her sorrow was almost infinite.
Her Love lives to this day.
And now I must stop for awhile.
You understand.

After falling in Love with her, I would ride to see her on my bicycle, a distance of about ten miles to her farm in the country. By the time I got there, this skinny little guy was worn completely out. (Thank God my Kind Mother would drive out to pick up me and my bike.) But there was always a great and abiding reward at the end of this long journey, the warmest smile and the biggest hug you can imagine. I always felt like I was coming home. And so did my Mother.

Many years later, my Mother would come to tell me that I reminded Nona of her son, her only child. And now that I look back, I can see me in her very loving and very lonely eyes. I gaze into the mirror of time and see what I meant to her and now, what she means to me.

Lonely rivers flow not just to the sea,
they flow to Hearts in need.

I was so infatuated with the cute little guinea hens she showed me on her farm, that I slipped a few eggs into my pocket, hoping that they would later hatch. Of course, this little city boy had no idea what was required for those eggs to hatch.


 

Today, I always seem to have a few of these beautiful creations in my Life. We had three gorgeous white guineas that roamed around the campus for several years, protected by my precious canine friend, Kirby. You can see them in a photo I took and placed at andersonschool.net/ About Us/History page. Today, thanks to our friends Rylee, Kylee and their wonderful Mom, Kayla, and our Kind next door neighbor, Bob, we have two turkeys and a guinea in our petting zoo. I Love them very much.
Thank you!

Picture

I especially treasure them today, I believe, because of what happened when my Mother drove me back to Nona’s farm to return the precious treasure of absconded eggs. After all, I did take them without asking. I expected to be scolded and given a proper lecture about taking them, when they were not given to me. I just knew the yoke was about to be on me!

But to know this precious Lady, Nona, was to be given a glimpse into the very Heart of Heaven. She was, in my humble and grateful opinion, an Angel. She softly patted me on the back of my hand and told me to keep the eggs and then placed them, very gently, and with words so tender, one by one, back into my pockets since, as she said, they meant so  much to me. And then she handed little “Skippy” even more eggs to keep. And I found out, in a Kind and Loving manner, what was necessary for them to hatch. Importantly, I learned that if you want to correct a behavior, let that someone know that you Love them. Tell them in different ways. Their behavior will change out of Love for you.
And the lessons learned will be profound.


 

You know, God sends his Love to us through such people. I know this, because it has happened so many times, especially in times of deep need. Yes, the Love of God is Real. I feel that it is the only thing that is Real. I can feel this special Love reach through time, from the Loving, gently Heart of this Truly good Lady. I feel it today. It is stronger today than when I was a child. It is much stronger. In fact, I Truly feel that her precious Spirit lives deeply embedded within
my Heart. For I, too, became her child.
Oh, what a warm and wonderful feeling.

Love seems to be that way. It ripens like fruit in the Sun. Like a Flower opens in the wind, spreading it’s fragrance all around, making us remember, making us smile. It keeps regret and sorrow and pain so very, very far away. It heals our wounds.

I remember the day I first met Nona. She was substituting for a ninth grade physical science teacher, who had the good judgement to take sick leave as soon as a day became available. I became inured to the horrible conditions I found myself in while enrolled in this pathetic school, if you could call it a school. My Mother had no real choice but to keep me enrolled in the public schools of this unnamed school district, that needed a warning label and was situated in west Texas.

I visited the neglected memorial for a precious third grade teacher, Lillie Hazle. This school district never bothered to replace the tree after it died.

I visited this neglected memorial on the lawn of the long gone old South Elementary School. It was for a precious third grade teacher I remember, Lillie Hazle. This school district never replaced the tree after it died. Mrs. Hazle will always remain in my heart.
(photo: 1984)

This community had become truly intoxicated and addicted to sports and alcohol. Yes, this intoxication was coupled with one for alcohol. They won, as I recall, five state championships in a ten year period. And violence was the order of the day. It was not only tolerated, it was promoted under the guise that,
“It toughens them up for the team!”

I, not so fondly, remember walking home, day after dreaded day, and passing by from three to five fist fights. From time to time, I actually fought my way home. No teacher ever stopped a fight. They just waited until someone hit the ground, then shouted to get back to class or hit the showers.

Oh my God!
There were always so many black eyes that I got a feeling I was attending the Texas school for the half-blind.

There was one benefit. Later, when I became a public school Principal (God has a sense of humor), I utilized the knowledge gained. But, during the period from grade seven to when I decided I had enough, it was not what anyone would call an academic experience. It proved to be a tragic loss of precious time on this Earth.
And for what?

Over this time I became possessed of a strong stomach and a hard head, inured to hardship, cruelty, and brutality. I found, as I came to manhood, that I unconsciously protected myself from the pain. But more importantly, I truly treasured anyone with a good Heart. And God, in His Mercy, provided what I needed to survive.

And yes, I was a youngster not afraid to Pray. I especially Prayed for those who were so violent and in need of Forgiveness. I can even remember Praying for some them while I had them on the ground. I gained some of my best friends this way. The larger ones, and there were some BIG guys, seemed to be impressed and later wanted to spend time with me. Many of them came to accept my Love. My concern for them brought me close to those in need. The others remained mentally, socially or morally ill. Many of them died young and very lonely. They are still in my Prayers.

The story I wish to share with you, of Nona and John Baggett, remains among the most tragic I have ever encountered. Their son, Andrew Cole, had served, and Heroically, three of four years in the U.S. Navy.
As cited from the local newspaper at the time:

Andrew was the son of John and Nona Baggett – Tx EM3 US Navy –
Born in Stephens County, Texas and died in Stephens County.

He was eager to have his picture made for those he Loved before he left for his fourth year in the U. S. Navy. On a Monday afternoon, Andrew Cole Baggett, 21, walked into the Ramsey Studio and Frank Homme completed the photographic assignment. The navy youth left and Homme yelled, “Good luck.” Baggett replied, “I’ll need it.!”

The next day, the war Veteran’s Loved ones called Homme to make pictures again. Homme made them as Andrew Cole Baggett lay in a casket at the Satterwhite Funeral home, less than 24 hours after that first studio appointment. He died after his body was thrown clear of the car he was driving on the Cisco highway, a few miles south of Breckenridge.

Now, I need to add something. Andrew turned his vehicle over, several times, trying to negotiate the turn onto the driveway of his Home. He died at the entrance to the house where his parents lived. What a horrendous discovery to make as you exit your Home.
And yes, he was intoxicated.

Mrs. A with Finis and Gladys Williams

Mrs. A with Finis and Gladys Williams (1982)

Many years ago, long after this tragedy, I had a dear friend and a man, who in many ways, took the place of the Father I never saw. His name was Finis Williams, and there was absolutely nothing he would not do for my Mother or for me or anyone else in need. I found him frequently repairing our plumbing or doing electrical work, or whatever was needed. And he would never accept pay.

Finis told me, privately and in tears, that Andrew was drinking at some event on the day he died and that he, Finis, tried, very hard, to let him drive Andrew home, since he was obviously drunk. But Andrew refused. And now, Finis is tearfully devastated by the loss of such a wonderful young man. Finis said, with the saddest look I have seen, “I should have taken his keys away. Just look at what has happened to his parents”.

Finis and your's truly

Finis and Yours Truly. (1982)

It was then that I recalled that every time I visited Nona’s home, her husband sat quietly, absolutely quiet, in a chair and never spoke a word. He never greeted me or said anything. Later, Nona explained that he never recovered from the loss of their son. And I found out that, until his death, he was in a near comatose state. The death of his only child, his treasured Son, was the death of his desire to Live.

Perhaps, in sharing this story, you can take steps to spare someone’s precious child, and a beloved family, from such a tragedy.
If so,
Andrew’s untimely death may not have been in vain.

Finis took me fishing, and boating and camping dozens of times over the years. He taught me how to water ski, camp out, cook, skin a fish, brag about the catch, tell tall tales (hey, it’s west Texas), and, how to be compassionate. Many times he would take out the catch, gut and clean the fish and then drive to someone’s home who was struggling to earn a living, usually a black family. There he would give that family all the fish we caught that day. And they were truly grateful.

Finis was our “Milk Man”.
He delivered the milk in one quart glass jugs to the doorsteps of many people. And one day, he brought milk to our doorstep. My Mother invited him in, and while visiting, he noticed that I returned from a “fishing trip” to the Gonzales creek. I was about six or seven years of age, at the time.

Finish asked me about my catch. And I explained that I did not catch anything. He then, and with tender words and actions, asked me to examine my fishing “gear”. He noted that I was fishing with a sewing needle and explained that I really needed a fishing “hook” with barbs on it, to hold onto the fish once it took the bate. He asked me about my bate and I confessed that I tried using grasshoppers, but they slipped off the needle. I needed a lot of help. Hey, I still do.

Portrait of an Angel, Finis Williams

Portrait of an Angel on this Earth,
Finis Williams.

Finis smiled broadly, chuckled, and looked at my Mother and exclaimed, “Well, I finally met a REAL fisherman, someone who loves fishing so much that he would risk his life to fish from the slippery and dangerous banks of the Gonzales creek, without a fishing pole (I had a long stick), thread for line, just some old grasshoppers for bait and no fishing hooks, just a needle (he carefully examined my gear). Yes, young man! You are just the fishing partner I have been looking for. Would you like to join me one day?

Well, I was quite excited. You can just imagine. And the next weekend Finis shows up with gifts: a new tackle box FULL of fishing lures, a bucket of live bait and a brand new fishing pole, yes, a real fishing pole. And off we go, with a real boat in tow to a real lake. And we caught twenty three perch, and yes, we cleaned them and took them to a family in need. The families we helped in this manner were always truly grateful. I recall many tearful moments.

A couple of years later, I learned that Finis was fired from his job as the local milk man. I remembered, while on the playground of South Elementary School, that Finis would frequently drive his milk truck to the playground, located in the back of the school, and hand out small cartons of milk to the kids, those left over that did not sell. Well, he was fired for giving the milk away, rather than putting it all in a dumpster. The owner of the company ordered the product thrown away rather than give anyone anything. The highway to Hades may also be paved with, uh, milk.

I cannot tell you how proud I was of my fishing buddy and friend, Finis Williams. I cannot wrap a sentence around the word “Love” with enough emotion to share my feelings and my deep, abiding regard for such a Loving man. Here was someone who knew what Life was all about and knew how to live it.

Later, the notorious junior high school I attended would employ Finis as one of the custodians. And I was so joyful knowing that my dear friend and fishing buddy was always nearby. We planned many a fishing trip from behind the trash cans and shared many slightly exaggerated stories of fish that grew in length by the minute. Truth, to someone in Love with fishing, can become a highly subjective thing.

Hey, if you don’t think God Loves you, just look around. He is disguised in many faces and gazes through many eyes. He is right around the next corner. He is always standing near you. He is always in your face.

I need another box of tissue.

People ask me, “Why do you spend so much time writing a weblog?” Well, it is therapeutic. But, if I can help just one other precious Soul with this information, I am truly Happy. And I hope I help you.

Please know that there is a horrendous and unfathomable price to pay when you consume the bacterial excrement, alcohol. But, importantly, there is ALWAYS a far greater cost than your suffering and death, O self-centered one. It is the collateral damage done to those who Love you. The parents of Andrew Cole Baggett literally stopped living when their only son died. Their reason for living was gone. The hope, the Love, the passion for Life –
all extinguished by liquid from a can.

I remember visiting their home on many occasions. And I was always deeply impressed when looking into a small classroom on the property.
It was constructed to provide for the only child of this couple and a few others, much like this School. I thought it strange that it was never touched, only cleaned. Nothing was ever moved from the place it was found on the last day Andrew attended school. It was, in retrospect, a memorial for the Dearly Loved, and only son,
of John and Nona Baggett.

Instead of being able to Honor this fine young man, the courageous Hero that Andrew became in the United States Navy, his body was buried along with the Hearts of his parents, in a deep hole in the Gunsight Cemetery. The Flowers that grow there are watered by tears. And in all that time, over so very many years, I still cry for this precious Family.

The next time you lift a glass or a can filled with so much regret, so much unbearable pain, so much loss of Life and precious Love, say a Prayer for the now nameless millions who have gone before you and left behind a landscape that resembles nothing but misery and death. Please remember that as you wander further and further down into this valley of the shadow of death, you are taking your Loved ones with you. Alcoholism is not singular disease. It is always accompanied by other victims. It is a social disorder on a magnitude and scale that defies definition. It envelopes and destroys entire families, your other Loved ones and friends, and frequently, many others that were simply going down the highway at the same time. Each year the number is in the millions. But the numbers do not matter as much as you do. They are insignificant to those who Love you,
if you drown in the sea of apathy and alcohol.

A new scientific study concludes there is
no safe level
of drinking alcohol.

A study, published in the international medical journal The Lancet, shows that in one year nearly 3 million deaths globally were attributed to alcohol use.

This scientific study concludes there is no safe level of drinking alcohol.
The study shows that in 2016, nearly 3 million deaths globally were attributed to alcohol use, including 12 percent of deaths in males between the ages of 15 and 49.

click here to read more.

The consumption of alcohol frequently leads to a portrait drawn of the loneliest place on earth, a graveyard. And the Flowers, yes, those Flowers, are not what they seem. They are watered by the tears of the deeply Loved and lost. They never blossom in the warm sunlight of Tomorrow. They died. Their lives were stolen, along with all the precious dreams.

Andrew Cole Baggett

UK doctors will finally trial whether vitamin D can protect people from Covid-19 after months of mounting evidence the cheap supplement could be a life-saver

  • Queen Mary University is recruiting 5,000 people for its Vitamin D study
  • Volunteers will be given either 3,200, 800 or 400 international units a day 
  • Government says 400 a day is enough, but taking more won’t have bad impacts

By Vanessa Chalmers Health Reporter and
Luke Andrews For Mailonline

Published: 07:46 EDT, 13 October 2020 | Updated: 09:50 EDT, 13 October 2020

Doctors will finally trial whether vitamin D can actually protect people from Covid-19 amid mounting evidence the 3p-a-day supplement could be a life-saver.

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London will recruit 5,000 volunteers to take the vitamin for six months if they do not already take high doses.

Experts will then assess whether participants are at less risk of catching the virus and developing a severe bout of the disease over the winter months.

A mountain of studies have found an overwhelming amount of people who test positive for Covid-19 do not have enough vitamin D in their bodies and the sickest of patients are often deficient.

Britons are most at risk of being vitamin D deficient between October and April when sunlight levels are too low for the body to make the vitamin — with those with darker skin at even higher risk. 

Around two in five Brits are deficient during the winter, when respiratory infections are most common. In the US, at least two in five citizens also lack sufficient levels of the vitamin.

It has led to calls for doctors to dish out cheap vitamin D supplements — which cost as little as 3p a day and have no dangerous side effects — to fight the disease, rather than waiting for a vaccine which may never be found. 

It comes as researchers from University of Brighton have today called for care home residents to be given the ‘sunshine vitamin’. 

Vitamin D supplements are safe, cheap and readily available – costing as little as 6p a pill and sold in most pharmacies, supermarkets and health shops 

As well as in supplements, vitamin D is also available through foods, including oily fish, red meat and eggs (right). A Singaporean study earlier in the year of nearly 800 people found almost 99% of Covid-19 patients who died had vitamin D deficiency (left)

CARE HOME RESIDENTS ‘SHOULD BE GIVEN VITAMIN D’ 

Care home residents are not being given vitamin D, which may be protective against Covid-19, despite Government guidance, researchers say.

Advice from Public Health England from before the pandemic states: ‘People whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun, like those in institutions such as care homes, or who always cover their skin when outside, risk vitamin D deficiency and need to take a supplement throughout the year.’ 

They should take a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms all year round, and not just in the winter when there is less sunlight.

However, interviews with people involved in elderly residential care, such as GPs and care home managers in southeast England, found that none was aware of any care home routinely offering the supplement, The Times reported.

Only a dietitian seemed aware of the guidance, according to the findings in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.  

Despite health chiefs advising residents should be given supplements all year round because they rarely go outside, academics found this was not happening in care homes in the south east of England.

Trial volunteers will receive tablets containing either 800 IU or 3,200 IU a day of the vitamin, which they will be asked to take for six months.

There will also be a control group taking the NHS recommended amount of 400IU a day. 

Although this level is advised for the winter months, experts said taking more wouldn’t pose a risk as the vitamin is harmless and the body simply removes any excess levels.

But there is no group not taking a vitamin supplement in the trial, meaning it is impossible for the experts to accurately compare differences between the groups.

Researchers will track the incidence of doctor-diagnosed or laboratory-confirmed acute respiratory infections in participants during the trial, to see whether the supplements have affected their risk or severity of infection.

Volunteers will also be required to do a finger-prick test to check their vitamin D levels.  

Dr David Jolliffe, from Queen Mary University of London, said the study had the potential to give a ‘definitive answer’ on whether vitamin D could protect against coronavirus. 

‘Vitamin D supplements are low in cost, low in risk and widely accessible; if proven effective, they could significantly aid in our global fight against the virus,’ he said.

Professor Adrian Martineau, who is also involved in the study, said: ‘There is mounting evidence that vitamin D might reduce the risk of respiratory infections, with some recent studies suggesting that people with lower vitamin D levels may be more susceptible to coronavirus.   

A study by Tehran University, in Iran, and Boston University analysed data from 235 hospitalised patients with Covid-19. Patients who had sufficient vitamin D – of at least 30 ng/mL— were 51.5 per cent less likely to die from the disease. Although no one in the study under age 40 died, fatalities  (red) were more  common among vitamin  D deficient people (under the  black  line) of all ages

A correlation graph showing the relationship between levels of viamin D (bottom, measured in nmol/l) compared to infection numbers of coronavirus by the University of East Anglia. Countries with low vitamin D levels tend to have the highest case rates per million – but the graph was from a study in May, when outbreaks looked very different to how they do now and testing was patchy in most countries

University of Chicago researchers studying 500 Americans’ vitamin D levels  found 60 per cent higher rates of Covid-19 among people with low levels of the ‘sunshine vitamin’

What have just some of the DOZENS of studies into vitamin D and Covid-19 shown?

When? September.

By who? Cordoba University in Spain.

What did scientists study? 50 Covid-19 hospital patients with Covid-19 were given vitamin D. Their health outcomes were compared with 26 volunteers in a control group who were not given the tablets.

What did they find? Only one of the 50 patients needed intensive care and none died. Half of 26 virus sufferers who did not take vitamin D were later admitted to intensive care and two died.

What were the study’s limitations? Small pool of volunteers. Patients’ vitamin D levels were not checked before admission. Comorbidities were not taken into consideration.

 When? September.

By Who? University of Chicago.

What did scientists study? 500 Americans’ vitamin D levels were tested. Researchers then compared volunteers’ levels with how many caught coronavirus.

What did they find? 60 per cent higher rates of Covid-19 among people with low levels of the ‘sunshine vitamin’.

What were the study’s limitations?  

Researchers did not check for other compounding factors. Unclear whether or not volunteers were vitamin D deficient at the time of their coronavirus tests. People’s age, job and where they lived – factors which greatly increase the chance of contracting the virus – were not considered.

 When? September.

By Who? Tehran University, in Iran, and Boston University.

What did scientists study? Analysed data from 235 hospitalized patients with Covid-19.

What did they find? Patients who had sufficient vitamin D – of at least 30 ng/mL— were 51.5 per cent less likely to die from the disease. They also had a significantly lower risk of falling seriously ill or needing ventilation. Patients who had plenty of the nutrient also had less inflammation – often a deadly side effect of Covid-19. 

What were the study’s limitations? Confounding factors, such as smoking, and social economic status were not recorded for all patients and could have an impact on illness severity.  

 When? July.

By Who? Tel Aviv University, Israel.

What did scientists study? 782 people who tested positive for coronavirus had their vitamin d levels prior to infection assessed retrospectively and compared to healthy people.

What did they find? People with vitamin D levels below 30 ng/ml – optimal – were 45 per cent more likely to test positive and 95 per cent more likely to be hospitalised.

What were the study’s limitations?  Did not look at underlying health conditions and did not check vitamin D levels at the time of infection.

 

When? June.

By Who? Brussels Free University.

What did scientists study? Compared vitamin D levels in almost 200 Covid-19 hospital patients with a control group of more than 2,000 healthy people.

What did they find? Men who were hospitalised with the infection were significantly more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency than healthy men of the same age. Deficiency rates were 67 per cent in the COVID-19 patient group, and 49 per cent in the control group. The same was not found for women.

What were the study’s limitations?  Independent scientists say blood vitamin D levels go down when people develop serious illness, which the study did not take into consideration. This suggests that it is the illness that is leading to lower blood vitamin D levels in this study, and not the other way around.

 When? June.

By who? Inha University in Incheon, South Korea.

What did scientists study? 50 hospital patients with Covid-19 were checked for levels of all vital vitamins and compared to a control group.

What did they find? 76 per cent of them were deficient in vitamin D, and a severe vitamin D deficiency (<10 ng/dl) was found in 24 per cent of Covid-19 patients and just 7 per cent in the control group.

What were the study’s limitations?  

Small sample size and researchers never accounted for vitamin levels dropping when they fall ill.

 When? June.

By Who?. Independent scientists in Indonesia.

What did scientists study? Checked vitamin D levels in 780 Covid-19 hospital patients.

What did they find? Almost 99% of patients who died had vitamin D deficiency. Of patients with vitamin D levels higher than 30 ng/ml  – considered optimal – only  per cent died.

What were the study’s limitations?  It was not peer-reviewed by fellow scientists, a process that often uncovers flaws in studies.

 When? May.

By Who? University of Glasgow.

What did scientists study? Vitamin D levels in 449 people from the UK Biobank who had confirmed Covid-19 infection. 

What did they find? Vitamin D deficiency was associated with an increased risk in infection – but not after adjustment for con-founders such as ethnicity. It led to the team to conclude their ‘findings do not support a potential link between vitamin D concentrations and risk of Covid-19 infection.’

What were the study’s limitations?  Vitamin D levels were taken 10 to 14 years beforehand. 

 When? May.

By Who? University of East Anglia.

What did scientists study? Average levels of vitamin D in populations of 20 European countries were compared with Covid-19 infection and death rates at the time.

What did they find? The mean level of vitamin D in each country was ‘strongly associated’ with higher levels of Covid-19 cases and deaths. The authors said at the time: ‘The most vulnerable group of population for Covid-19 is also the one that has the most deficit in vitamin D.’

What were the study’s limitations?  The number of cases in each country was affected by the number of tests performed, as well as the different measures taken by each country to prevent the spread of infection. And it only looked at correlation, not causation.

 When? May.

By Who? Northwestern University.

What did scientists study? Crunched data from dozens of studies around the world that included vitamin D levels among Covid-19 patients. 

What did they find? Patients with a severe deficiency are twice as likely to experience major complications and die.

What were the study’s limitations?  Cases and deaths in each country was affected by the number of tests performed.

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‘Vitamin D deficiency is more common in older people, in people who are overweight, and in Black and Asian people – all of the groups who are at increased risk of becoming very ill with Covid-19.

‘The UK government already recommends that people take a low-dose vitamin D supplement over the winter to protect their bone health, but we do not know if this will have an effect on Covid-19 or if higher doses might be able to provide protection against the virus.

‘The CORONAVIT trial will test whether higher doses of vitamin D might offer protection against winter respiratory infections including Covid-19.’ 

Arguments on the link between Vitamin D deficiency and its observed link with poor Covid-19 outcomes started to gather pace as early as May. 

The problem lies in the fact there is a lack of gold-standard medical research – the randomised controlled trials which compare people who are given the supplement with those who are not to see which group fares better. 

Only one study has done this so far, conducted by the University of Cordoba in Spain and published last month.

Researchers gave high doses of calcifediol – a type of vitamin D supplement – to 50 patients hospitalised with the disease.  

There were no deaths among volunteers receiving the vitamin and all 50 patients were eventually discharged by the end of the study. But two of the 26 patients in a control group, who were not given the tablets, died.

Just one patient given calcifediol felt ill enough to be admitted to intensive care, whereas half of the participants in the control group were taken to ICU and two died.

But many scientists have criticised the study, saying its sample size is too small for any firm conclusions to be drawn about the impact of Vitamin D.

Nonetheless, it was the most promising result for trials of the vitamin so far, and corresponds to earlier research that fixing vitamin deficiency might cut mortality rates by half. 

A Northwestern University study, published in May, found Covid-19 patients with a severe Vitamin D deficiency are twice as likely to experience major complications and die.  

Nearly 99 per cent of Covid-19 patients who are vitamin D deficient die, according to a study from Indonesian researchers who analysed hospital records of 780 people who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Results revealed 98.9 per cent of infected patients defined as vitamin D deficient — below 20ng/ml — died. Yet this fell to just 4.1 per cent for patients who had enough of the nutrient.

Researchers warned the study was not definitive, however, because the patients with high vitamin D levels were healthier and younger.

Another study by Tehran University, in Iran, and Boston University, found hospital Covid-19 patients who had sufficient vitamin D – of at least 30 ng/mL— were 51.5 per cent less likely to die from the disease. 

The study of 235 hospitalized patients with Covid-19 also showed those with enough vitamin D had a significantly lower risk of falling seriously ill or needing ventilation. 

Patients who had plenty of the nutrient also had less inflammation – often a deadly side effect of Covid-19. 

However, there were flaws in these studies, such as a lack of acknowledgement of confounding factors, such as smoking, and social economic status, which were were not recorded for all patients but could have an impact on illness severity.   

Some participants’ underlying health conditions were not defined, despite having a major impact on disease severity. 

There have also been at least three studies which have suggested those who have enough vitamin D are less likely to catch the coronavirus in the first place.

But Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline: ‘My general view is that if there is no clear cut view on vitamin D after six months of debate then there is nothing in it.’  

But given the findings so far, it astonished scientists that Mr Hancock was so quick to throw out the ‘sunshine vitamin’ as a potential treatment.

Matt Hancock wrongly told the House of Commons in September that a Government-funded ‘trial’ investigating vitamin D showed it did not ‘appear to have any impact’. 

He was told to ‘get his facts straight’ in September after shooting down vitamin D as a potential coronavirus treatment despite a growing body of evidence from around the world suggesting it works.  

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Morgan told MailOnline the secretary of state ‘needs to be listening, not dismissing’.

She added: ‘I hope Matt Hancock will take a less flippant approach to potential treatments in future and get his facts straight before making such comments. We’re in a crisis, it’s time for politicians to stop playing science and listen to the experts.’ 

Chris Chapman, chief executive officer of manufacturer YPV, which offers a home vitamin D test kit, said the company was ‘deeply disappointed’ about Mr Hancock’s comments.

He said: ‘We have seen a mountain of evidence that vitamin D has a positive, and at times life-saving, impact on people suffering with severe symptoms of coronavirus. 

‘We fundamentally disagree with the Health Secretary on this matter, his comments display incredible ignorance.

‘We urge him to practice his well-trodden mantra by following the science, which overwhelmingly points to the benefits of vitamin D when it comes tackling coronavirus.’ 

The ‘sunshine vitamin’ – nicknamed because it is acquired by spending time in the sun – is postulated to protect against Covid-19.  

A number of studies have suggested the immune-boosting vitamin could protect people from coronavirus after finding adults deficient in the nutrient are more at risk of catching the disease. 

And those who spend more time indoors – such as in a care home – or who have darker skin – those of a Black, Asian or ethnic minority (BAME) background – are also at greater risk of Covid-19.

Officials estimate one in five Britons are deficient in vitamin D — the equivalent of 13million Britons. 

But some people are more at risk than others; the rate is up to 90 per cent in people with darker skin who find it harder to obtain the vitamin from the sun. 

Advice from PHE states: ‘People whose skin has little or no exposure to the sun, like those in institutions such as care homes, or who always cover their skin when outside, risk vitamin D deficiency and need to take a supplement throughout the year.’

But a recent University of Brighton study suggests care home residents are not being given the supplement.

The article was written by BSMS MSc Public Health graduate Joe Williams and the university’s Principal Lecturer for Health Promotion and Public Health, Carol Williams 

The team interviewed four GPs four care home managers, a dietitian, a falls specialist, two public health practitioners and a senior doctor in elderly care, The Times reported.

A report from the Academy of Medical Sciences in July said: ‘It has been suggested that low levels of vitamin D — endemic within the UK, exacerbated by lockdown and which worsen over winter — may contribute to susceptibility to Covid-19.’  

 

School Calendar
2021-22
First Semester
Sept. 7 – December 17   2021

Sept. 7 (TUESDAY)               First Day of First Semester
Oct. 11 (Monday)                   Columbus Day Holiday
Nov. 22 – 26                           Fall Break (and Thanksgiving)
Dec. 17                                   Last Day of Fall Semester

Second Semester

Jan. 4 (TUESDAY)                 Second Semester Begins
Jan. 17  (Monday)                  Dr. Martin L. King Holiday
Feb. 21  (Monday)                  Presidents’ Day Holiday
Mar. 14 – 18                           Spring Break Holiday
April 15 & 18                           Good Friday and Easter Monday Holidays
May 24 – 27                            Adventure Trip
May 27                                    Last Day of Spring Semester

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