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Covid-19: Public health agencies review whether vitamin D supplements could reduce risk

BMJ 2020; 369 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2475 (Published 19 June 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;369:m2475

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Re: Covid-19: Public health agencies review whether vitamin D supplements could reduce risk

Dear Editor,

The use of Vitamin D in pandemic infection is not new. In 1848 the physicians of the Brompton Hospital undertook a study of the use of Cod Liver Oil (very high in vitamin D) in 1000 patients with phthisis (Tuberculosis, TB) (1). In 500 patients given usual treatment the mortality was 33%. In 500 similar patients given daily Cod Liver Oil the mortality was 19%, a massive 42% reduction in death rate. The subsequent widespread use of Cod Liver Oil may well have contributed to the reduction in incidence and severity of TB over the following century, well before the advent of antibiotic therapy.

While Covid 19 is very different from TB, the human immune system has probably changed little over 170 years. The need for an adequate level of Vitamin D for fighting severe Covid infection deserves urgent study and probably a positive approach to this simple therapy.

1. Green M, Cod Liver Oil and Tuberculosis, BMJ 2011; 343: 1305-1307 BMJ 2011:343:d7505

Competing interests: No competing interests

29 June 2020
Malcolm Green
Retired physician, Royal Brompton Hospital
Professor Emeritus, Imperial College
Royal Brompton Hospital, London SW3 6NP