Our Ruling Class in Britain and America recently decreed that is now acceptable to report race differences in the incidence of Covid-19, partly because minorities seem to be hardest hit and it sees a chance to blame whites. This is something of a pyrrhic victory for a young British sociologist called Dr. Noah Carl, right, who was fired last year from Cambridge University for “problematic work” on “race and intelligence” which might “legitimise racist stereotypes” and which hurt the feelings of some of the college’s students [Cambridge college sacks researcher over links with far right, by Richard Adams, The Guardian, May 1, 2019]. Carl’s “problematic” work included an academic journal article [How Stifling Debate Around Race, Genes and IQ Can Do Harm, Evolutionary Psychological Science, 2018] in which he had the temerity to suggest that suppressing the concept of “race” might lead to just as many social problems as not doing so—one of which would be ignoring race differences in the ability to fight off different diseases. This is exactly what has now happened.
As part of the academic and journalistic mobbing that pressured Cambridge University into firing Carl, Carl’s article on this subject was specifically highlighted, in the leftist Guardian newspaper, who subtly presented it as evidence of Carl’s wickedness: “…he has previously defended his work on race and genetics by arguing that ‘stifling debate around taboo topics can itself do active harm’” [Cambridge gives role to academic accused of racist stereotyping, By Richard Adams, The Guardian, December 7, 2018]. I reported on this here as part of my coverage on the mounting Leftist War On Science.
More recently, Carl has penned a careful and detailed article arguing, in the most systematic way I have yet seen, that genetically-caused race differences in Vitamin D deficiency is the most parsimonious explanation of the race differences in fatality from Covid-19 [Why Are Non-White Britons More Likely to Die of COVID-19?, by Noah Carl, Medium, May 17, 2020]
Carl by citing an academic study for evidence that, in Britain:
Compared to the general population, the age-adjusted risk of death was 4 times higher for Pakistanis, 4 times higher for Bangladeshis, 2.6 times higher for Indians, 5.7 times higher for black Africans and 3.7 times higher for black Caribbeans [Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups in England are at increased risk of death from COVID-19: indirect standardisation of NHS mortality data, Robert Aldridge et al., Welcome Open Research, May 6, 2020].
So, non-whites are clearly heavily over-represented. Carl then explores the possible causes, suggesting that geographical factors are the most obvious. Presenting official statistics in each case, he explains that non-Whites are more urban, more likely to live in multi-generational households (where an asymptomatic child will pass Covid-19 to a grandparent), more likely to work for the National Health Service or in some other “key work” where you cannot stay at home, and more likely to live in poverty.
Displaying the analytic mind which got him fired from Cambridge University in the first place, Carl then explores why these are not complete explanations.
Non-Whites comprise 21% of NHS staff but 63% of NHS staff deaths from Covid-19. They also make up 94% of the doctors and dentists who have died from Covid-19.
With geographical and social factors dispatched, Carl then asks what the medical reason can be for the race disparity. One possibility: differences in pre-existing medical conditions that make you vulnerable to Corona. But the analyses that Carl draws upon, which control for sociological factors, also control for these. And when you do so, non-whites are still more likely to die.
Thus, Carl finds, we are left with one serious explanation:
One possible explanation for the remaining gap—which has been suggested by a number of commentators—is higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in non-whites (specifically blacks and South Asians). Exposure of the skin to UVB rays promotes vitamin D synthesis, but pigmentation is believed to interfere with this process. UVB intensity is lower at northern latitudes, meaning that people with dark skin obtain less vitamin D via photoproduction. (Whatever the precise mechanism, it is a fact that black and South Asian Britons are much more likely to be vitamin D deficient). [Links in original]
As I reported a few weeks ago, and as Carl notes, this Vitamin D possibility has been suggested in the pages of the British Medical Journal. Carl further presents evidenced that Vitamin D deficiency elevates the likelihood of dying not just from Covid-19 but any respiratory tract infection. And he cites a study on Black deaths from Covid-19 in America which controls for sociological factors and concludes that one plausible explanation would be Vitamin D deficiency among Blacks. [Multivariate Analysis of Factors Affecting COVID-19 Case and Death Rate in U.S. Counties: The Significant Effects of Black Race and Temperature, by Adam Li et al., medRxiv, April 24, 2020]
Carl concludes, albeit with scholarly caution, that:
…evidence suggests that geographic and socio-economic factors are not sufficient to explain non-white Britons’ elevated risk of death from COVID-19, and that taking into account pre-existing conditions may not fully explain the gap. The most plausible explanation for the remaining gap is vitamin D deficiency.
This means that Leftist ideologues dressed up as “scientists,” such as Guardian writer Dr. Adam Rutherford, are, through their illogical race denialism, risking the lives of ethnic minorities.
Rutherford has recently published a book called How to Argue With a Racist, in which he insists that “race” is a “social construct,” only biological to the extent that it involves differences in skin color, and that these are superficial and unimportant. He also effectively argues that, even if you accept the reality of race differences because, in your view, that is what makes sense of the data, then you still “racist.” This is implicit in the fact that he fails to show that such views are scientifically unreasonable but still claims they are “racist.”
Rutherford was all over the U.K. newspapers condemning Noah Carl and his colleagues for their views on race when it was revealed, in 2018, that they had attended the “London Conference on Intelligence” at University College London. Attendance at this conference was one of the factors in Carl being fired.
But Rutherford’s suppression of “race” is indirectly responsible for disproportionate ethnic minority Covid-19 deaths including, ironically, his own near-death [Scientist Adam Rutherford: Coronavirus and pneumonia almost killed me, Evening Express, March 27, 2020]. This is unsurprising. Rutherford is half-Indian and, therefore, less able to synthesise sunlight into Vitamin D and more likely to be Vitamin D deficient.
This only goes to show the madness of Rutherford in allowing his need to virtue-signal to trump the science.
I have been ending these articles with a warning of the perils of denying the biological reality of race when it comes to Covid-19—never more apposite than in this case.
But this time let’s leave the last word to Dr Noah Carl:
"Given the low costs associated with vitamin D supplementation, recommending this for at-risk groups such as non-white people and the elderly would seem to be a top priority for Western governments.”
The data are even stronger than I wrote. I've now seen preliminary evidence from a larger sample of Covid patients in Indonesia: they are 19 times more likely to die if deficient in vitamin D. Please can the authorities advise vitamin D supplements, @JimBethell, @MattHancock? https://t.co/DhMupisRce— Matt Ridley (@mattwridley) May 5, 2020
Lance Welton [email him] is the pen name of a freelance journalist living in New York.