Review study suggests vitamin D may not be a predictor of COVID-19 deaths, unlike previously thought
A recent review study stated that scientists should not use statistical data alone to form a correlation between vitamin D levels and COVID-19 infection.
In a recent article, scientists from the UK and US claimed that low levels of vitamin D can be a reason for deaths in COVID-19 patients. Though the study was based on statistical data and was at the preliminary stages, as soon as the study came out in public, it created a stir as some people thought vitamin D could be used as a preventive measure against COVID-19. On investigating the study, researchers from the Xavier School of Management, Jamshedpur and the Indian Institute of Management Kashipur, found that vitamin D has no relationship with the COVID-19 deaths. They further stated that scientists did not take other factors into account before getting to a conclusion.
Previous studies about Vitamin D and COVID-19
There were a few studies that claimed that low levels of Vitamin D could be one of the reasons for deaths in COVID-19 infected people.
One of the studies was conducted by Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering, the US in ten countries affected by the novel coronavirus. It stated that low vitamin D levels can lead to an over-reactive immune response in the body which is known as a cytokine storm. Inflammation from a cytokine storm can lead to death in COVID-19 patients.
Another study was carried out by Dr Petre Cristian Ilie from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Foundation Trust, UK and his colleagues. The study, conducted on 20 European countries, was based on the relationship between mean levels of Vitamin D in people and COVID-19 mortality. The study concluded that if the mean levels of vitamin of D are low, it can lead to a higher number of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
False correlation of Vitamin D with COVID-19 deaths
A recent review study, posted on a preprint server called medRixv, stated that the scientists should not use statistical data alone to form a correlation between vitamin D levels and COVID-19 infection.
In the review study, they calculated the data of those 20 European countries which were taken into account by Dr Illie and their team. The reviewers not only analyzed the vitamin D levels of these nations but also their life expectancy.
The reviewers stated that countries that have better healthcare systems, have a higher life expectancy, thus they could detect a higher number of COVID-19 cases. They believed that since age is a known risk factor of COVID-19, countries with a higher life expectancy might have a more ageing population than those with a lower life expectancy. They further believed that people with older age are less likely to get exposed to sunlight, so they may have low levels of vitamin D in their body.
The results of the review study
The reviewers concluded that life expectancy of a population can be a major reason behind the deaths related to COVID-19. They further concluded that life expectancy of a country is a major predictor of both COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 deaths as the countries with higher life expectancy will have a higher proportion of older people and may present with more deaths.
They called for more research be conducted to find out the role of vitamin D levels in COVID-19 cases or deaths as the claims made previously could lead to overdosing on the vitamin, which can reportedly have fatal consequences.
For more information, read our article on Immunity to COVID-19.
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