Covid-19: Public health agencies review whether vitamin D supplements could reduce risk

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Looking at Sweden, COVID-19 and vitamin D…

Dear Editor

Most of the reported COVID-19 deaths in Sweden are in the elderly – is there a problem with vitamin D deficiency in this age group?

Latest reported deaths in Sweden are 5,526 (pop. 10.23 million), with 1,428 deaths in people over 90. 2,300 deaths are reported for people in the age group 80-90. So that’s 3,728 of the deaths. Then there are reportedly 1,194 deaths in the age group 70-79. That’s 4,922 deaths across the age group 70 to over 90. There are 379 deaths reported across the ages 60-69. And 156 deaths in the age group 50-59. With a total of 69 deaths across the ages of 0-49 years.[1]

So most of the deaths are in the elderly age group 70 to 90, i.e. 4,922 deaths, people who are also likely to have comorbidities.

Some previous studies have identified vitamin D deficiency in Swedish nursing homes, see for example “Vitamin D deficiency was common among nursing home residents and associated with dementia: a cross sectional study of 545 Swedish nursing home residents”[2], and “Vitamin D deficiency in elderly people in Swedish nursing homes is associated with increased mortality”[3].

Considering Sweden as a whole, it seems most of the population remains alive and not adversely affected by SARS-CoV-2 in the prime of their lives. Perhaps Sweden has made the right decision not to grossly disrupt its society and the lives of millions of people with draconian lockdowns?

Internationally, the focus now should be on finding effective treatments and strategies for the sick, i.e. generally elderly people. And recommending long-term practical preventive measures for the population generally, to reduce the prospect of the illnesses which exacerbate the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and enhance health, e.g. promoting optimum vitamin D levels.

References:
1. As at 10 July 2020 on the Statista webpage: Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) deaths in Sweden in 2020, by age groups: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1107913/number-of-coronavirus-deaths…
2. Arnljots, R., Thorn, J., Elm, M. et al. Vitamin D deficiency was common among nursing home residents and associated with dementia: a cross sectional study of 545 Swedish nursing home residents. BMC Geriatr 17, 229 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12877-017-0622-1
3. Maria Samefors et al.  Vitamin D deficiency in elderly people in Swedish nursing homes is associated with increased mortality. European Journal of Endocrinology. May 2014. 170:5, 667-675.

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