Just a week into the COVID-19 pandemic, Rahul KM, our founder of Forecasty.AI, created an early accurate mathematical model which points out the potentially crucial role of UVB radiation and potentially vitamin D in preventing coronavirus.
The Coronavirus continues to batter cities and affects almost every aspect of our lives, from the mental-health crisis, anxiety disorders, to social-economic loss. Wearing masks, keeping social distance, washing your hands and avoiding crowded places — have been widely applied around the globe to help slow down the outbreak. But could we do something more?
Our founder, Rahul KM, has found a significant association between vitamin D deficiency and the severity of COVID-19 infections by performing a detailed global analysis together with Lennart Kraft and Bernd Skiera.
It's undisputed that vitamin D is mainly produced when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis, and naturally present in foods such as fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks, and dietary supplements. Vitamin D is essential in calcium, and phosphate balance that affects bone growth prevents respiratory infections and boosts the immune system. Hence, vitamin D deficiency is very likely to leave a gap in our body's defenses and affect the immune system.
Epidemiologic studies have noted major COVID-19 clusters during late winter in northern hemisphere were above 350N latitude (e.g., New York, Qom (Iran), Lombardy, London), disproportionately affecting certain categories of people – elderly, male, colored, care home residents – indicating a pattern linked to vitamin D deficiency. “People from the so-called BAME (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic) backgrounds make up a large proportion of patients with severe COVID-19, especially in the UK. Apart from the socio-economic and cultural aspects, low concentration of vitamin D in BAME people in the northern hemisphere may contribute to this greater risk.”, says Rahul.
Rahul together with Lennart Kraft & Bernd Skiera from Goethe University, Frankfurt analysed global data of 152 countries for COVID-19 deaths and recoveries and identified a significant negative association between UV- radiation and the number of deaths, indicating the protective role of sunshine. Experts from various fields such as Data Science and Consulting - Sharath Mandya, Rukshan Ur Rehman and Matthew Little – collaborated at various stages of the paper.
Rahul was invited to a podcast series with Ivor Cummins, where they shared brilliant ideas and discussed the finding that demonstrates an association exists between low levels of vitamin D and COVID-19 mortality in different countries around the globe.
There is still further need for clinical studies to confirm the evidence of Rahul’s research result from a medical perspective. If found causal, then it would indicate the possibility of mitigating COVID-19 deaths via sensible sunlight exposure or vitamin D intervention, both of which are low risk - low cost. “We need more clinical studies to establish the causal relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19. We are extremely glad that, our research among others has triggered the much-needed debate and research in the medical community regarding this topic. As we speak, more than 40 clinical studies have been registered relating to the role of vitamin D in mitigating COVID-19. The results of these clinical research will guide the causal relationship and intervention strategies in the future.”, says Rahul.