Correspondence: Vitamin MePA
August 24, 2017
Dear Dr. Aardsma,
In your August 3, 2017 letter to Fred Hines, you said, "The present state of our knowledge of this vitamin indicates that every day of delay in bringing it to the public results in the loss of some 6000 American lives." Skeptics may have good reason to call this a sensational exaggeration.
I think these are the most recently finalized death statistics for the United States: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_04.pdf. According to this [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] report, a total of 2,626,418 American deaths were reported in 2014, of which 135,928 were due to accidents, 42,826 to suicide, and 15,872 to homicide, leaving 2,431,792 deaths due to other causes. This gives an average of 6,662 deaths per day. If the vitamin could be brought to the public tomorrow instead of 23 days later, is it reasonable to estimate that 138,000 American lives could be saved? Maybe so, if it is reasonable to presuppose that just having the vitamin available would result in adequate healing of most people with life-threatening diseases possibly related to vitamin deficiency.
A more reasonable presupposition would be that only a few people will begin taking the vitamin at first, but the number taking it may rise rapidly once it becomes clear and widely known that dramatic health improvements can generally be expected. This popularization process may well take weeks or even much longer. Some people may never take the vitamin, even if it is readily available. Besides this, as you explained in your book, "While proper dosing with MePA puts one immediately on the road to better health, an elderly person still has a significant probability of dying of complications arising from MePA deficiency disease lesions (of a heart attack, for example) while waiting for those lesions slowly to heal" (Aging: Cause and Cure, p. 106).
I applaud and understand your desire to make a strong appeal for minimizing delays in making vitamin MePA available, but in my opinion, "the present state of our knowledge" is insufficient to specify any credible estimate of how many lives would be lost due to one more day of delay.
Skeptics will be mistaken if they call 6000 American lives lost per each day of delay a sensational exaggeration. It is actually a bit of an understatement, as your numbers show. Either you are misunderstanding what I am saying, or you are doing the math wrong.
I am not saying that vitamin MePA will immediately stop death due to aging the day after we get FDA clearance to market it. That is pretty obvious. What I am saying is that each day of delay costs roughly another 6000 American lives.
Here is an easy way of doing the math to see this.
Plot the number of Americans dying of vitamin MePA deficiency disease per day versus time, from the start of vitamin MePA distribution until the disease has been eradicated. Make your best guess at what this curve is likely to look like. According to your numbers, it starts out at 6662. It then drops to zero over some period of time. As it turns out, the shape of this curve doesn't affect the answer, so don't fuss too much over it. Call this the "adoption curve."
The rate at which the vitamin is adopted by the public is reasonably assumed to be independent of the start date for distribution. This follows from the fact that acceptance of the vitamin is likely to be largely dependent upon the demonstrated performance of the vitamin, and not much can be demonstrated until people are free to take the vitamin. So it is reasonable, in first approximation, to assume the same adoption curve, starting from the start date, whether we start tomorrow or a year from tomorrow.
Now you have to integrate the adoption curve from the start date out to full vitamin implementation to figure out how many people died of vitamin MePA deficiency. But you can probably "see" that the number who die during the adoption curve will always be the same, regardless of start date. It is just a small step from there to "see" that each day of delay costs, according to your numbers, 6662 lives. This happens because delay pushes the adoption curve along the time axis, gobbling up days (well in the future, at the end of the adoption curve) in which zero lives are lost due to vitamin MePA deficiency disease and leaving behind days (at the present time) in which 6662 American lives are lost each day due to vitamin MePA deficiency disease.
The result, regardless of the shape of the adoption curve, is that each day of delay costs, according to your numbers, another 6662 American lives.
Now let me point out that even the number, 6662, that you have calculated, is an underestimate. The categories of death that you have subtracted are also age related. For example, accidents kill a proportionately higher number of aged than youthful people, because youthful bodies are more resilient.
6000 American lives lost per day of delay is most certainly not a sensational exaggeration. The cost of delay, in terms of human lives lost, is very large, and it needs to be taken seriously.