COVID-19 fatalities, latitude, sunlight, and vitamin D
Death rates, Insufficient vitamin D, Proximity to the equator, UV radiation
Background: Since Vitamin D is known to be vital in regulating the immune system, and sunlight UV radiation exposure on the skin produces Vitamin D and UV intensity is highest nearest the equator, a study was done to examine the correlation between the latitude and COVID-19 fatality rates for countries. Methods: Eighty-eight countries were selected based on their likelihood of providing reliable data. Using death rates/million for each country from the “worldometer” website, a correlation analysis was done between death rates and a country's latitude. Results: A highly significant, positive correlation was found between lower death rates and a country's proximity to the equator (Pearson r = 0.40 P < .0001, 2-tailed t test). The R squared of 0.16 means that 16% of the variation in death rates among nations is accounted for by the latitude of the country. Evidence is presented suggesting a direct correlation between sunlight exposure and reduced mortality. Discussion: This study is the first to document a statistically significant correlation between a country's latitude and its COVID-19 mortality and is consistent with other research regarding latitude, Vitamin D deficiency, and COVID-19 fatalities. Limitations of this study are noted. Conclusions: Further research is needed to confirm the correlation between latitude and COVID-19 fatalities, and to determine the optimum amounts of safe sunlight exposure and/or vitamin D oral supplementation to reduce COVID-19 fatalities in populations that are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency.
American Journal of Infection Control
Whittemore, Paul B., "COVID-19 fatalities, latitude, sunlight, and vitamin D" (2020). Pepperdine University, Faculty Open Access Publications. Paper 35.