Temitope Alonge, the Deputy Chairman of Oyo State COVID-19 Task Force, says higher Vitamin D levels due to constant exposure to sunlight may be responsible for the lower death rates and severity of COVID-19 in the country.
Alonge said this while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ibadan on treatment protocol adopted by the state in management of COVID-19 patients.
Alonge, a former Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Ibadan, said that there was a link between levels of vitamin D, which plays a role in our immune function, and respiratory health.
According to him, the task force has also started a study that discovered that Vitamins D level played a major role on severity and complications of COVID-19.
“Vitamin D has been looked at, it has two major functions, one is called endocrine and the other one is called autocrine.
“The endocrine function assists in the absorption of calcium which helps build the immune system and keeps you strong, that’s what most people think Vitamin D is for, but in fact Vitamin D receptor is expressed on immune cells.
“The autocrine function of Vitamin D is that it stimulates the cells to produce antibodies as required.
“So the abilities to produce these antibodies are already inside of you and your cells have it.
“But they won’t produce it until they have a trigger by Vitamin D3, the active form which forms from when the natural ultraviolet (UV), light interferes with a product in our skin.
“In our study on micronutrients status of some patients at the Olodo Infectious Disease Centre, we discovered that when a few patients did not turn negative quickly, when we added Vitamin D 100,000 to 200,000 International units, within five days they became negative.
“So in effect, a Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased autoimmunity, as well as an increased susceptibility to viral infections,” he said.