• A new study has found an association between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of Covid-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries.
Findings of the study:
• Italy and Spain, which experienced high Covid-19 mortality rates, have lower average vitamin D levels than most northern European countries. This is partly because people in southern Europe avoid strong sun, while skin pigmentation also reduces natural vitamin D synthesis.
• The highest average levels of vitamin D are found in northern Europe, due to the consumption of cod liver oil and vitamin D supplements, and possibly less sun avoidance. Scandinavian nations are among the countries with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases and mortality rates.
How vitamin D impact novel coronavirus:
• Vitamin D is known to modulate the response of white blood cells, preventing them from releasing too many inflammatory cytokines (part of the body’s immune response to fight infections).
• And the SARS-CoV2 virus is known to cause an excess of pro-inflammatory cytokines, called a cytokine storm.
• Vitamin D has been shown to protect against acute respiratory infections, and older adults, the group most deficient in vitamin D, are also the ones most seriously affected by Covid-19.
Mains Paper 3: Science and Tech
Prelims level: Covid-19’s Vitamin D link
Mains level: Key findings of the study