COVID-19 Fatalities, Latitude, Sunlight, and Vitamin D
Whittemore, Paul B.
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Background: Since Vitamin D is known to be vital in regulating the immune system, and sunlight UV radiation exposure on the skin produces Vitamin D and UV intensity is highest nearest the equator, a study was done to examine the correlation between the latitude and COVID-19 fatality rates for countries. Methods: Eighty-eight countries were selected based on their likelihood of providing reliable data. Using death rates/million for each country from the “worldometer” web site, a correlation analysis was done between death rates and a country’s latitude. Results: A highly significant, positive correlation was found between lower death rates and a country’s proximity to the equator (Pearson r = .40 p<.0001, two-tailed t-test). The R squared of .16 means that 16% of the variation in death rates among nations is accounted for by the latitude of the country. Evidence is presented suggesting a direct correlation between sunlight exposure and reduced mortality. Discussion: This study is the first to document a statistically significant correlation between a country’s latitude and its COVID-19 mortality and is consistent with other research regarding latitude, Vitamin D deficiency, and COVID-19 fatalities. Limitations of this study are noted. Conclusion: Further research is needed to confirm the correlation between latitude and COVID-19 fatalities, and to determine the optimum amounts of safe sunlight exposure and/or vitamin D oral supplementation to reduce COVID-19 fatalities in populations that are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency.
Link to resourcehttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2020.06.193
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