Sunlight linked to lower COVID-19 deaths, study finds

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

In a new study from the University of Edinburgh, researchers found that sunnier areas are associated with fewer deaths from Covid-19.

They suggest that increased exposure to the sun’s rays—specifically UVA—could act as a simple public health intervention if further research establishes it causes a reduction in mortality rates.

In the study, the team compared all recorded deaths from Covid-19 in the continental US from January to April 2020 with UV levels for 2,474 US counties for the same time period.

They found that people living in areas with the highest level of exposure to UVA rays—which makes up 95% of the sun’s UV light—had a lower risk of dying from Covid-19 compared with those with lower levels.

The analysis was repeated in England and Italy with the same results.

The researchers took into account factors known to be associated with increased exposure to the virus and risk of death such as age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, population density, air pollution, temperature and levels of infection in local areas.

The observed reduction in risk of death from Covid-19 could not be explained by higher levels of vitamin D, the experts said.

Only areas, with insufficient levels of UVB to produce significant vitamin D in the body, were included in the study.

One explanation for the lower number of deaths, which the researchers are following up, is that sunlight exposure causes the skin to release nitric oxide.

This may reduce the ability of SARS Coronavirus2—the cause of Covid-19—to replicate, as has been found in some lab studies.

Previous research from the same group has shown that increased sunlight exposure is linked to improved heart health, with lower blood pressure and fewer heart attacks.

As heart disease is a known risk factor in dying from Covid-19, this could also explain the latest findings.

If you care about COVID-19, please read studies about how this common stomach drug may help treat COVID-19 and findings of this old drug could prevent lung damage in people with COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 prevention and treatment, please see recent studies about two new anti-inflammatory drugs may boost recovery from COVID-19 and results showing that many people recovered from COVID-19 still carry virus.

The study is published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Copyright © 2021 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.