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Evidence of protective role of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation in reducing COVID-19 deaths

Moozhipurath et al., Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-020-74825-z
Oct 2020  
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Analysis of 152 countries suggesting that a permanent unit increase in UVI is associated with a 1.2 percentage points decline in daily growth rates of cumulative COVID-19 deaths.
Moozhipurath et al., 19 Oct 2020, peer-reviewed, 3 authors, study period 22 January, 2020 - 8 May, 2020.
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Evidence of protective role of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation in reducing COVID-19 deaths
Rahul Kalippurayil Moozhipurath, Lennart Kraft, Bernd Skiera
Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-020-74825-z
Prior studies indicate the protective role of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation in human health, mediated by vitamin D synthesis. In this observational study, we empirically outline a negative association of UVB radiation as measured by ultraviolet index (UVI) with the number of COVID-19 deaths. We apply a fixed-effect log-linear regression model to a panel dataset of 152 countries over 108 days (n = 6524). We use the cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths and case-fatality rate (CFR) as the main dependent variables and isolate the UVI effect from potential confounding factors. After controlling for timeconstant and time-varying factors, we find that a permanent unit increase in UVI is associated with a 1.2 percentage points decline in daily growth rates of cumulative COVID-19 deaths [p < 0.01] and a 1.0 percentage points decline in the CFR daily growth rate [p < 0.05]. These results represent a significant percentage reduction in terms of daily growth rates of cumulative COVID-19 deaths (− 12%) and CFR (− 38%). We find a significant negative association between UVI and COVID-19 deaths, indicating evidence of the protective role of UVB in mitigating COVID-19 deaths. If confirmed via clinical studies, then the possibility of mitigating COVID-19 deaths via sensible sunlight exposure or vitamin D intervention would be very attractive. COVID-19 is causing significant economic, healthcare and social disruption globally. However, it is not yet known how to prevent or treat COVID-19. Prior studies indicate the protective role of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation in human health. UVB radiation exposure is a major source of vitamin D, which increases immunity and reduces the likelihood of severe infections and mortality. A recent COVID-19 study indicates abnormally high case-fatality-rate (CFR) of 33.7% among nursing home residents 1 , which is consistent with studies indicating higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among them because of their lower mobility 2,3 . Increasingly, studies establish a link between vitamin D deficiency and comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease 4 , hypertension 5 , obesity 2,6 , type 1, and type 2 diabetes 7 . This evidence is consistent with clinical studies in China and Italy that indicate comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases could be important risk factors for critical COVID-19 cases [8] [9] [10] . Epidemiology of COVID-19 provides evidence that vitamin D might be helpful in reducing risk associated with COVID-19 deaths 11, 12 . If such a link is true, then it will be cost-effective to mitigate COVID-19 via sensible exposure to sunlight or via vitamin D nutritional intervention. Yet, to the best of our knowledge, so far, no empirical study has used data across many countries to explore the association between UVB radiation as measured by ultraviolet index (UVI) and the number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 (COVID-19 deaths). The aim of this study is therefore to examine the..
Author contributions R.K.M. conceptualized the research idea, conducted literature research, designed theoretical framework and collected the data. L.K. designed empirical methods and analyzed the data. R.K.M. and L.K. interpreted the results and wrote the article. B.S. provided critical inputs, edited and revised the article. Competing interests RKM is a PhD student at Goethe University, Frankfurt. He also is a full-time employee of a multinational chemical company involved in vitamin D business and holds the shares of the company. This study is intended to contribute to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and is not sponsored by his company. BS also holds shares of the company. All other authors declare no competing interests. The views expressed in the paper are those of the authors and do not represent that of any organization. No other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work. Additional information Supplementary information is available for this paper at https :// 8-020-74825 -z. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to R.K.M. Reprints and permissions information is available at
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