New York Institute of Technology
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

It is difficult to believe that roughly six weeks ago, about 100,000 COVID-19 related deaths were recorded worldwide. As of today, there are over 98,000 recorded deaths in the U.S alone. The speed at which this public health threat has caused havoc and changed the entire world cannot be overstated. As scientists have rushed to research this disease, a record number of reports have been generated in a short period of time. For the average person, these studies can be very difficult to interpret and unfortunately, misinterpretation can lead to fatal outcomes. Therefore, we must be very careful about what action we take upon learning new information.

A most unfortunate example of this lack of understanding was the Arizona couple who ingested choroquine phosphate, an aquarium cleaner, which they confused with hydroxychloroquine being discussed at the national level. Sadly, this led to the husband dying and the wife being hospitalized. Aside from misunderstanding treatment-related issues, another area that can lead to illness and hospitalizations is the inappropriate use of nutritional supplements. Most recently with COVID-19, Vitamin D is one example. Based on reports that Vitamin D deficiency seemed to increase risk for respiratory illness and unverified reports that high doses of Vitamin D may prevent COVID-19 infection, a number of people have ingested large doses of Vitamin D. This has led to many patients arriving at hospitals in the United Kingdom with toxic levels of Vitamin D, again due to misinterpretation and misunderstanding of scientific reports.

The essential problem is that proving a cause-and-effect relationship is very difficult and requires time via an intense deliberative, academic process. To establish a "causal relationship" requires many vigorous research steps, including demonstrating a temporal relationship, determining the strength of an association, biologic plausibility, demonstrating a dose-response relationship, replication of findings, consistency with other existing knowledge, and many other criteria. One study alone simply cannot do all of the above. Particular caution should be taken when interpreting an anecdotal report of one (or a few) individual(s) who may have benefitted from some specific treatment.

Therefore, while medical scientists take us through this academic research maze, it is important that the New York Tech community continue following the established recommendations of hand-washing/sanitizing, social distancing, wearing face coverings as appropriate, and self-isolation when ill to reduce the spread of this virus. All of these are generally accepted by most public health and community medicine experts. This will be increasingly important as the nation begins to loosen restrictions in an effort to reopen our communities and improve the economy.

Our Resources for You

In addition to your local resources, the physicians and staff at the Academic Health Centers are available to answer your questions. You can also schedule appointments to meet with our medical providers via "TeleHealth" (virtual medical appointments). Call us at 516.686.1300.

It is also understandable that members of our New York Tech community may have concerns about a new and unfamiliar illness. If you are feeling anxious or uneasy, please reach out to Counseling and Wellness Services at our campuses in Long Island (516.686.7683) or New York City (212.261.1773) to talk or make a virtual appointment.


Brian L. Harper M.D., M.P.H.
Chief Medical Officer, NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine
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