According to Israeli scientists, they have managed to gather the most convincing evidence that the risk of death and serious illness can be reduced in COVID-19 patients via increased levels of Vitamin D. Researchers from the Galilee Medical Center and Bar Ilan University stated that the disease’s severity is strongly impacted by the vitamin and they would be able to use a patient’s Vitamin D levels and age to predict how they would fare. The conclusion of the new research that was published on Thursday was that danger levels increased significantly when there were low levels of Vitamin D. The research for this study was conducted in Israel during the first and the second wave of the virus.
This was when vaccines were not widely available and doctors had emphasized that vitamin supplements could not be used as a substitute for the vaccine, but had recommended their use to prevent immunity levels from declining. Deficiency of Vitamin D is endemic throughout the Middle East as well as Israel, as a study in 2011 showed that four in five people are deficient. However, Israeli researchers discovered that taking the supplements before they are infected can help people in avoiding the worst effects of the virus.
A Bar Ilan researcher and a physician at the Galilee Medical Center, Dr. Amiel Dror said that the difference in the possibility of being a severe patient when compared to high and low levels of Vitamin D was striking. He is also part of the team who conducted the study and noted that it had been done before the discovery of the Omicron variant. But, he added that there is not a fundamental change between the variants that can negate the effectiveness of Vitamin D. He said that this vitamin helps in bolstering the immune system for dealing with the pathogens attacking the respiratory symptoms and that’s how it prevents severity in COVID infections.
He added that this was applicable in the case of Omicron as well as other variants. Israeli health authorities, along with those in some other countries, have also recommended Vitamin D supplements to be used during the pandemic, but there hadn’t been much proof of its effectiveness till now. Researchers had published preliminary findings in June that showed about 26% of patients had died before hospitalization and they were Vitamin D deficient. Only 3% with normal levels of Vitamin D had died.
It was also determined that there was a 14 times more chance of Vitamin D-deficient hospitalized patients to turn severe or critical, as opposed to others. While the importance of these results is not lost on the scientific community, there were questions about whether the results were skewed due to the recent health conditions of the people. There was a possibility that patients may have been suffering from conditions that reduce levels of Vitamin D and increase the vulnerability to COVID-19 becoming severe, which means that the deficiency could actually be a symptom instead of a contributing factor in the severity of the disease.