Evidence of Protective Role of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) Radiation in Reducing COVID-19 Deaths

Rahul Kalippurayil Moozhipurath, Lennart Kraft, Bernd Skiera

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Received date: 13th May 2020

Background. Prior studies indicate the protective role of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation in human health, mediated by vitamin D synthesis. In this observational study, we empirically outline a negative association of UVB radiation as measured by ultraviolet index (UVI) with the number of COVID-19 deaths. Methods. We apply a fixed-effect log-linear regression model to a panel dataset of 152 countries over 108 days (n=6524). We use the cumulative number of COVID-19 deaths and case-fatality rate (CFR) as the main dependent variables and isolate the UVI effect from potential confounding factors. Findings. After controlling for time-constant and time-varying factors, we find that a permanent unit increase in UVI is associated with a 1.2 percentage points decline in daily growth rates of cumulative COVID-19 deaths [p < 0.01] and a 1.0 percentage points decline in the CFR daily growth rate [p < 0.05]. These results represent a significant percentage reduction in terms of daily growth rates of cumulative COVID-19 deaths (-12%) and CFR (-38%). Interpretation. We find a significant negative association between UVI and COVID-19 deaths, indicating evidence of the protective role of UVB in mitigating COVID-19 deaths. If confirmed via clinical studies, then the possibility of mitigating COVID-19 deaths via sensible sunlight exposure or vitamin D intervention would be very attractive.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on a preprint server, which is currently undergoing peer review at Scientific Reports. The findings have yet to be thoroughly evaluated, nor has a decision on ultimate publication been made. Therefore, the results reported should not be considered conclusive, and these findings should not be used to inform clinical practice, or public health policy, or be promoted as verified information.

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Nature Research, Springer Nature