A Vitamin D Bet

It was always odd to me that hydroxychloroquine became a shibboleth. Vitamin D seemed like a better focal point (cheap, safe, natural!) and the case for its effectiveness is not without merit. Indeed, an Israeli company, RootClaim, which combines crowdfunding of data with Bayesian algorithms to improve decision making (yeah, some reasons for skepticism here) has offered to bet anyone $100,000 (I think at 1:1 odds) that Vitamin D works against COVID. The precise bet is as follows:

Rootclaim is willing to bet $100,000 that vitamin D 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, which we will define as a minimum 1.5x reduction in odds of admission to the ICU.

  • 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 This is to protect from abuse in case of unpublished research (there is still a small chance that further research will discover the treatment is ineffective).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.

Rootclaim is putting a lot of weight on their analysis of this study. Evaluate at your own risk but I have been taking Vitamin D and trying to get some extra sun since the beginning of the pandemic.

Hat tip: Gordon Shotwell who has a useful overview of Vitamin D research and COVID here.


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