“The relationship between Covid-19 mortality, season and latitude has been quite striking, here we offer an alternative explanation for this phenomenon,” ~ Professor Chris Dibben, University of Edinburgh
*Experts found sunnier places had around a third fewer deaths from coronavirus
*They say exposure to UVA causes skin to release chemical that stops the spread
*Researchers from Edinburgh University compared Covid deaths to UV levels
Now that restrictions are easing, many of us are in hopes of a good summer… spending many days outside with friends and family.
Well many experts believe we could see a drop in Covid numbers simply due to the change in season.
About a year ago, many were speculating if sunshine would help the spread of Covid-19. Well, now the numbers are out, and many studies have been done. One particular study from Edinburgh University found that people living in areas with the highest level of exposure to UVA rays – which makes up 95 percent of the sun’s UV light – had a lower risk of dying.
This reduction, however, could not be explained by higher levels of vitamin D. The areas that were analyzed in this study had insufficient levels of UVB to produce enough vitamin D in the body.
So one explanation is that sunlight causes the skin to release nitric oxide. Researchers believe this may reduce the ability of SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19, to replicate.
What is nitric oxide?
It’s a compound produced naturally in the body. Its functions include acting like a hormone in controlling various organs. It regulates, for example, tension in the blood vessels and blood flow between and within organs.
For example, in acute lung failure, nitric oxide can be administered as inhaled gas, in low concentrations, to boost the blood-oxygen saturation level. During the SARS coronavirus epidemic of 2003, this therapy was successful. One key reason for the successful results was that inflammation in the patients’ lungs decreased. This property of nitric oxide – the protection it affords against infections, by being both antibacterial and antiviral – is the very one that now interests the researchers.
For the Edinburgh study, they also took into account factors known to be associated with increased exposure to the virus and risk of death such as age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, population density, air pollution, temperature and levels of infection in local areas.
The team says due to the observational nature of the study it is not possible to establish cause and effect. However, it may lead to interventions that could be tested as potential treatments.
Researchers say that until we get a vaccine that completely works, they hope that inhalation of nitric oxide might be an effective form of treatment. The dosage and timing of starting treatment will be crucial in determining the outcome.
(sources: Edinburgh University, Associated Press, Science Daily, UK News, British Journal of Dermatology)