Sunlight linked with lower Covid-19 deaths, UK University study credits UVA - not Vit D - for lower fatality -
Sunlight linked with lower Covid-19 deaths, UK University study credits UVA - not Vit D - for lower fatality
Posted 17 Apr 2021 11:41 AM


Sunlight linked with lower Covid-19 deaths, UK University study credits UVA - not Vit D - for lower fatality


Every day, something or the other is learnt anew about the COVID-19-causing novel coronavirus and its several strains. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have published after a study 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. Researchers from the University of Edinburgh 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.

UVA exposure: The key factor!
The study found that people living in areas with the highest level of exposure to UVA rays - which makes up 95 per cent 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:

1. age,
2. ethnicity,
3. socio-economic status,
4. population density,
5. air pollution,
6. temperature and
7. 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.

What role does Nitric oxide play?

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 cardiovascular 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. The team say due to the observational nature of the study it is not possible to establish cause and effect. However, it may lead to interventions that could be tested as potential treatments. The paper has been published in the British Journal of Dermatology, an official publication of the British Association of Dermatologists.

In September 2020, Hiroshima University researchers had proposed that their studies showed that using Ultraviolet C light with a 222 nm wavelength, which doesn’t harm living cells in the human eye and skin, effectively kills the SARS-CoV-2. This is the first study in the world that proves its potency against the virus which causes COVID-19. The results were published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

There is still so much we don’t understand about Covid-19, which has resulted in so many deaths worldwide. These early results open up sunlight exposure as one way of potentially reducing the risk of death.

The WHO has been also trying to raise awareness about the risks of Ultra-Violet Radiation. Small amounts of ultraviolet (UV) radiation are essential to produce vitamin D in people, yet overexposure to sunlight may result in acute and chronic health effects on the skin, eye and immune system. The rise in the incidence of skin cancers over the past decades is strongly related to increasingly popular outdoor activities and recreational exposure. Experts believe that 4 out of 5 cases of skin cancer could be prevented by protecting against overexposure to sunlight.

The amount of UV radiation from the sun that hits the Earth’s surface depends on several factors, including the sun’s height in the sky, latitude, cloud cover, altitude, the thickness of the ozone layer and ground reflection. Reductions in the ozone layer due to human-created pollution increase the amount of UVA and UVB that reaches the surface.

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