Hyderabad: Researchers have claimed that treating coronavirus patients with high doses of vitamin D supplements could help keep them out of intensive care.
Treatment with calcifediol
During a study, high doses of calcifediol were given to 50 patients hospitalised with Covid-19 in Spain. All 50 patients were eventually discharged by the end of the study.
Calcifediol is one of the few hormones which regulates the bradykinin which is build up on the body due to Covid-19 and make blood vessels leaky and drives up the risk of inflammation. Calcifediol can also prevent the immune system from going into overdrive.
However, discouraging people from trying to self-medicate, scientists have noted that taking too much vitamin D can cause bone and organ damage over time. According to the NHS recommendation people should not take more than 70 micrograms of vitamin D a week.
People with darker skin
Researchers are of different opinion whether vitamin D deficiency can raise the risk of dying of Covid-19. Some experts think lack of vitamin D may play a role in the deaths of black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds if they catch the coronavirus. Because people with darker skin need to spend more time in sunlight in order to get the same amount of vitamin D as a person with lighter skin. Hence, the NHS has suggested people with an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background to benefit from taking a daily supplement throughout the year.
Scientists believe that Vitamin D may have a protective effect against severe coronavirus by regulating the immune system, and deficiencies of it have been linked to other respiratory viruses.
Though, the largest study to investigate the link between BAME, Covid-19 and vitamin D in a UK population found no proof, William Henley, a professor of medical statistics at University of Exeter said: ‘Preliminary research suggests vitamin D levels may also impact on the risk of people suffering from severe COVID-19 infections.’
Scientists, whose paper has been published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, have suggested prescribing calcifediol to all Covid-19 patients with lung damage. But critics feel the results are not definitive.
Loop holes of the study
Daily Mail reported that while picking holes in the methodology, Dr Satyajit Rath, from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Pune, said the study is conducted on an extremely small group of patients. It does not identify the degree of severity of Covid-19 in the patients at admission, and does not provide any details of their clinical progress other than ICU admission and death, he claimed.
Pointing out other flaws in the study findings, Professor SP Kalantri, director of medicine at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences in Maharashtra, India, noted that researchers did not measure vitamin D levels before or after administering the drug.