London, April 9 (IANS): Increased exposure to sunlight, especially UVA, could be a simple public health intervention to prevent mortality from Covid-19, say researchers, who have found that sunny areas are associated with fewer deaths from the deadly virus.
Ultraviolet UVA rays make up 95 percent of the sun’s UV light and can penetrate deeper into the skin.
People living in areas with the highest levels of UVA exposure had a lower risk of death from Covid-19 compared to those with lower levels, a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found.
The analysis was repeated in England and Italy with the same results.
However, the reduction in the risk of death cannot be explained by higher levels of vitamin D, said researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.
But nitric oxide released from the skin due to exposure to sunlight could be the reason because it could likely reduce the ability of SARS CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19, to replicate, as found in some laboratory studies, they noted.
Previous studies have found an association between increased exposure to sunlight and improved cardiovascular health, with lower blood pressure and fewer heart attacks. Since heart disease is a known risk factor for mortality from Covid-19, this could explain the latest findings.
The team compared all reported deaths from Covid-19 in the U.S. from January to April 2020 with UV levels for 2,474 U.S. counties over the same time period.
Due to the observational nature of the study, it is not possible to determine the cause and effect. However, this could lead to interventions that could be tested as potential treatments, the researchers said.