Can the sun help you survive Covid?

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Can the sun help you survive Covid? UVA rays can release skin chemicals that prevent the spread of deadly viruses, scientists say

  • Experts found that in sunnier places there were about a third fewer deaths from the coronavirus
  • They say that exposure to UVA causes the skin to release a chemical that stops its spread
  • Researchers at the University of Edinburgh compared Covid deaths to UV levels

With restrictions eased, hopes for a good summer were already sky high.

And scientists have now said there could be fewer Covid deaths as a result of the change in the season.

Experts found that in sunnier places there were about a third fewer deaths from the virus.

They believe that exposure to the sun’s rays – especially UVA – caused the skin to release a chemical that stops the virus from spreading.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh compared recorded Covid deaths with UV levels in 2,474 counties in the US between January and April last year.

They found that people who live in areas with the highest levels of exposure to UVA rays – which make up 95 percent of the sun’s UV light – have a lower risk of death.

The odds of dying from Covid fell 32 percent for counties with the highest mean daily UVA.

Experts believe that exposure to the sun's rays, especially UVA, has caused the skin to release a chemical that prevents the spread of Covid-19.  Picture: stock picture

Experts believe that exposure to the sun’s rays – especially UVA – caused the skin to release a chemical that prevents the spread of Covid-19. Picture: stock picture

This was repeated in England and Italy with the same results, according to the findings published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

The decrease could not be explained by higher levels of vitamin D, the experts said, because the areas analyzed had insufficient UVB levels to produce enough vitamin in the body.

One explanation is that sunlight causes the skin to release nitric oxide. This can reduce the ability of SARS-CoV-2, the cause of Covid-19, to replicate.

The researchers took into account factors known to be associated with increased exposure to the virus and the risk of death, such as age, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, population density, air pollution, temperature and infection levels in local areas.

Dr. Richard Weller, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “There is still so much we don’t understand about Covid-19, which has caused so many deaths worldwide.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh compared recorded Covid deaths with UV levels in 2,474 counties in the US between January and April last year.  Picture: stock picture

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh compared recorded Covid deaths with UV levels in 2,474 counties in the US between January and April last year.  Picture: stock picture

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh compared recorded Covid deaths with UV levels in 2,474 counties in the US between January and April last year. Picture: stock picture

“These early results allow exposure to sunlight as a way to potentially reduce the risk of death.”

Previous research has shown that increased sunlight exposure is also linked to improved cardiovascular health, with lower blood pressure and fewer heart attacks.

Since heart disease is a known risk factor for death from Covid-19, this could also explain the latest findings, scientists say.

Professor Chris Dibben, co-author of the study, said, “The relationship between Covid-19 mortality, season and latitude is quite striking, here we provide an alternative explanation for this phenomenon.”

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