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

Forthcoming, Scientific Reports

55 Pages Posted: 1 May 2020 Last revised: 9 Oct 2020

See all articles by Rahul Kalippurayil Moozhipurath

Rahul Kalippurayil Moozhipurath

Goethe University Frankfurt

Lennart Kraft

Goethe University Frankfurt

Bernd Skiera

Goethe University Frankfurt

Date Written: April 1, 2020

Abstract

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.

Note: Funding: This study is not sponsored by any organization.

Conflict of Interest: RKM is a part-time PhD student at Goethe University, Frankfurt. He also is a full-time employee of a multinational chemical company involved in vitamin D business and holds the shares of the company. This study is intended to contribute to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and is not sponsored by his company. BS also holds shares of the company. All other authors declare no competing interests.

Keywords: COVID-19; Coronavirus; UVB Radiation; UV Index; Ultraviolet; Sunlight; Vitamin D; Vitamin D deficiency; Vitamin D COVID-19; COVID-19 Clinical outcome; Infectious disease; Public health; COVID-19 Clinical Trial; Mortality

JEL Classification: I1,I10, I12, I18, I28, J1, I18

Suggested Citation

Kalippurayil Moozhipurath, Rahul and Kraft, Lennart and Skiera, Bernd, Evidence of Protective Role of Ultraviolet-B (UVB) Radiation in Reducing COVID-19 Deaths (April 1, 2020). Forthcoming, Scientific Reports, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3586555 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3586555

Rahul Kalippurayil Moozhipurath (Contact Author)

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 4
Frankfurt, 60629
Germany

Lennart Kraft

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Gr├╝neburgplatz 1
Frankfurt
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://lennartkraft.com

Bernd Skiera

Goethe University Frankfurt ( email )

Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 4
Frankfurt, 60323
Germany
+49 69 798 34640 (Phone)
+49 69 798 35001 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.skiera.de

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