Increased exposure to the sun’s rays, especially UVA rays, could reduce death rates. A correlation has even been found that the sunniest areas are associated with fewer deaths from COVID-19.
The study was conducted by researchers at the University of Edinburgh, who compared all deaths recorded by COVID-19 in the United States from January to April 2020 with the ultraviolet radiation levels of 2,474 counties nationwide during from the same period.
Higher levels of vitamin D?
The study found that people living in areas most exposed to UVA rays, which make up 95% of the sun’s ultraviolet light, had a lower risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to those whose levels were lower . 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 the risk of death, such as age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, population density, pollution of air, temperature and infection conditions in local areas.
The observed reduction in the risk of death from COVID-19 could not be explained by higher levels of vitamin D. Only areas with insufficient levels of UVB to produce a significant amount of vitamin D in the body were included in the study. One explanation for the lower death toll could therefore be that sun exposure causes nitric oxide to be released through the skin. This can reduce the capacity of the coronavirus to replicate, as has been identified in some laboratory studies.