Donkeys doing the Dogs’ jobs?
Posted on November 18th, 2020

By Bodhi Dhanapala [The author is a retired lecturer who worked in several Technical Colleges (CEGEP, Ecole Polytechnique) in Quebec, Canada.]


UN representatives and Agriculturalists who pose as experts on Covid-19 management.

I read with amazement the attempt by the Resident UN coordinator  in Sri Lanka,  Ms. Hanna Singer, to take over the job of advising the Sri Lankan government about the safety of burial of  Covid infected bodies. In addition, she is trying to offer advise on the political fall out from  it to a veteran politician like Mahinda Rajapaksa!  

One thinks of the donkey who took over the dog’s job, as retold  in Aesop’s Fables. Ms. Singer hangs on the claim that the WHO has made a statement regarding the matter!  Why has  Ms Singer’s equivalent in USA kept shut instead of advising President Trump about the need to follow the directives of the WHO which are in fact in agreement with those of the Head of Disease control in the US, namely, Dr. Fauci?

The WHO has certainly NOT conducted any field experiments regarding the matter in the context of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, The Health Ministry officials are  evidently in close communication with the WHO officials who have even congratulated the Sri Lankan Health authorities for their excellent management of Covid cases. Even with the second wave, Sri Lanka so far has 61 deaths for a population of 22 million, while Bangladesh, which allows burial of corpses, has 1.33 MILLION people dead, for a population of 161 million. If Sri Lanka had followed Bangladesh in proportion to the population, there should have been 182,000 deaths in Sri Lanka and not just 61. Let us look at Ms Singer’s own country, Egypt, another predominantly Muslim country with a population of 98 million. It has also suffered 1.34 MILLION deaths!   Religious rights have over-arched health regulations in many countries, while in some countries like the US, some states or regions  with strongly orthodox religious belief systems have had higher incidences of the Epidemic.

Ms. Singer is not the only person who has come forward to advise the public. Some have even marketed all kinds of medications that are claimed to boost  the immunity of those who take the medications”. Ms. Senanayake, a lady who is supposed be able to communicate with God Natha, and her team  claim to have formulated an inhalation (dum hattiya”) as well as a leafy broth (kola Kaenda”) that are claimed to not only prevent Covid-19, but to even cure it in three days.  Of course, NO  randomized double blind trials that prove the claim are  offered. One must be careful to note that Minister Jayasumana, now in charge of pharmaceuticals,  was at one time a follower  of Ms. Senanayake.

Sisira Jayakodi, Minister of Indigenous Medicine Promotion, claims that his ministry has developed” several Ayurvedic drugs to treat COVID-19 and also for the people who are at greater risk of contracting the virus. Sadanga Panaya” and Suwadarani Immunising Drink”, are said to be two drugs  developed” using completely local herbs. They are said to be immunity boosters”. However, there is not a word about how these drugs were tested and shown to be effective!  They were just developed”!

The Ayurvedic doctors and the Nath Deviyo  followers can at least say that they don’t practice medicine that is purely based on empirical investigations.  They claim to depend on the revelations and writings of the ancient Rishis” and  traditional wisdom”- what ever that may be! If you ask them about what this immunity” is, that is being boosted”, they offer no clear mechanism.

But Dr. Stanley Weeraratne, a retired agricultural scientist is clearly not going on the authority of ancient Rishis.  Dr. Weeraratne has written to the Island Newspaper (17-11-20) declaring to the public an important message asking people to take Vitamin D to increase immunity to COVID-19”.

Dr. Weeraratne tells us that among the many things to be done to avoid COVID 19 is to boost the immunity. Vitamin D is considered to increase the immunity to virus diseases. Exposing to direct sunlight for 30 to 45 minutes between 9.30 am  and mid-day would generate an adequate amount of vitamin D to boost immunity. Several publications on Vitamin D and immunity are in a number of websites”.

But NO randomized trials, or even authenticated (even if limited) clinical trials exit, to show that Vitamin D  Vitamin D to increase immunity to COVID-19”.  

Exposing oneself to the sun in the manner described can lead to sunburn unless you have regularly worked in the sun and acquired a sufficiently dark skin when Vitamin-D production as well as the risk of sunburn drops. There may exist dozens of publications in websites, including not only on Vitamin D, but even suggesting drinking Cow Urine, as boosting immunity, but those claims are as worthless as the usual mis-information found in the internet.

Immunity is produced by T-cells and antibodies that have been formed during past infections, and now recognize any new attacks by those previous diseases. Good health and adequate Vitamins can help maintain the already acquired immunity intact.  But a  new virus cannot be fought using the T-cells and antibodies made for those previous infections. Hence, until the body gets the T-cells and antibodies that can recognize and attack the new virus, no amount of immunity boosting, no amount of inguru, koththamalli, vishnu-kraanthi” etc.,  can help against the new virus. That is why knowledgeable scientists are working hard to make NEW vaccines against the NEW virus.  So, people who talk of boosting the immune system” are  simply vague myth makers.  

I invite Dr. Weeraratne to explain why this  immunity that he claims can be acquired using  Vitamin D has no effect on Dengue and other viral diseases that affect the tropics. Here people work in fields for most of the day, often bare-bodies, wearing only a loin cloth and perhaps a Jataava” to cover the head.

I invite Dr. Weeraratne to explain why this immunity did not protect local populations that work in the sun – be they in Sri Lanka or Bangladesh, from polio, chicken pox, small pox, HIV, common flu  etc., all these  being viral diseases.

Or is he claiming that Vitamin D has a specifically powerful ability to prevent Covid-19 but not Dengue etc? If so, can he provide some reliable clinical evidence for this utterly unsubstantiated claim?  Just saying that the evidence is there in some publications and websites is not enough. That suggest a surprisingly uncritical and dangerous approach to an extremely important matter – dealing with an Epidemic.

By Bodhi Dhanapala
[The author is a retired lecturer who worked in several Technical Colleges (CEGEP, Ecole Polytechnique) in Quebec, Canada.]

One Response to “Donkeys doing the Dogs’ jobs?”

  1. Gunasinghe Says:

    Dhanapala, No claim that vitamin D does not stop COVID 19 infection. Certainly there are ample evidence vitamin D boost the immune system. IN case of if you expose to any virus effect would be less. THat is the argument. That is why people use vitamin. No randomized trials needed to recommend any vitamin. You not a doctor. For your information to teach in a technical college does not have to be a person with higher degree. You have mentioned that agriculture people does not have to comment on this pandemic. For your information agriculture is not only growing vegetables or other crops. Some of people deal with molecular biology and biotechnology. Your title insult the people with agriculture degree. If you are a educator please do not insult people with other capabilities. It proves that you a fool.
    Gunasinghe PhD

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