The results of the analysis, based on hospital statistics from several continents, showed that patients from the most exposed COVID-19 countries, such as Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom, have a reduced content of vitamin D in comparison with patients from other countries.
Scientists from the Queen Elizabeth hospital Foundation And the University of East Anglia have previously come to the same conclusions. Their observations were based on a comparison of the average content of vitamin D in the blood of residents of 20 European countries.
The authors of the new scientific paper believe that the difference in mortality rates is not due to the quality of the health system, the age composition of the population, or the volume of testing.
According to the head of the group, Professor of biomedical engineering Vadim Beckman, the North of Italy is among the leaders in the quality of medicine. However, there are still more deaths from coronavirus than in other regions and countries. Also, the death rate varies within the same age group. The analysis also showed that differences persist even when comparing countries with approximately the same number of tests performed.
At the same time, the Association of COVID-19 mortality with vitamin D deficiency remains significant when comparing patients from a wide variety of groups. Researchers suggest that the inflammatory process is accelerated due to a” cytokine storm” — the immune system’s hyper reaction to a stimulus. It can destroy the lungs, as well as provoke acute respiratory syndrome and death.
“It is an erratic immune response, rather than damage to the lungs by the virus itself, that probably causes death in most cases in patients with coronavirus,” the medical Xpress portal quotes the scientist as saying.
Researchers note that vitamin D not only strengthens the immune system but also controls it, preventing it from becoming hyperactive and dangerous to the body.
“Our analysis shows that controlling vitamin D levels in patients would reduce mortality from coronavirus by about half. This measure is not suitable for preventing infection, but could be useful when you need to reduce the risk of complications and prevent death in those already infected,” the authors write.
Scientists have suggested that the link they found partially explains why children are less likely to die from COVID-19: they have not yet fully formed acquired immunity, which in adults provides a “second line of defense” against pathogens, but at the same time can be dangerous for the body.
The authors also warned that an overdose of vitamin D is fraught with side effects. The optimal dose of the substance to fight COVID-19 scientists has not yet determined due to insufficient data.