‘Coronavirus severity, the sun, lifestyle and Ethnic Minorities = Vitamin D – isn’t it staring us in the face?’, A blog by Connect Health’s Chief Medical Officer

Connect Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Graeme Wilkes, shares his thoughts and the science behind Vitamin D deficiency and Covid-19 cases in the BAME population.

29 April 2020

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I believe a link between Covid19 severity and Vitamin D is so logical it MUST be considered seriously, and I believe supplementation recommended strongly.

Dr Graeme Wilkes, Chief Medical Officer for Connect Health, British Diving (the Olympic platform and springboard type), Senior Sports Physician to the English Institute of Sport for 17 years, and practicing GP for 13 years in inner city Newcastle upon Tyne, shares how his ‘huge lightbulb moment’ came when the study on deaths in NHS workers was disseminated late last week (1).

He shares his analysis of the study;


Striking observations worldwide have been that CV19 is more prominent in BAME populations and the obese. Data from the NHS worker deaths study showed strikingly for BAME:

·        63% of total deaths were in those from BAME

·        71% of nurse deaths were from BAME

·        94% of doctor/ dentist deaths were from BAME

·        56% of Healthcare support workers were from BAME

·        56% of those who died were not born in the UK


So clearly BAME is a significant risk factor with Asian deaths outnumbering those in the Black community. Yet looking at the countries of origin for BAME families – there are very low rates on CV19 recorded compared to their homes now (2):

·        New York 10,655 cases per 1M people

·        UK               1436 ……………… 1M people

·        India                11 ……………… 1M people

·        Pakistan          33 ……………… 1M people

·        Jamaica           64 ……………… 1M people

·        Ghana              30……………… 1M people

·        South Arica     40 ……………… 1M people

·        Australia          92 ……………… 1M people

It seems clear that it isn’t who people with BAME are, its where they live.

So, what is the explanation? Well it will undoubtedly be multi-factorial, but I would like to put forward for the BAME population and probably also a proportion of the white population that Vitamin D deficiency may be a major factor.


Why might vitamin D play a part?

Well, whilst best known for bone and muscle health, there is evidence that Vitamin D plays a role in resistance to infection and specifically respiratory infection. In my elite sport role, the English Institute of Sport (EIS) has promoted Vitamin D testing in elite athletes and supplementation through the winter. The rationale for this has always been dual – to maintain muscle health for training and to resist respiratory illness that elite athletes are prone to.


Taking Vitamin D to prevent serious coronavirus infections is not my idea, nor new – indeed Public Health in all the home countries are suggesting this.

My motive for this blog is that these findings and advice to consider Vitamin D is not getting out to the public with any urgency or conviction. I appreciate how busy the scientists and decision makers are but this needs to be stressed more.

We are in a crisis, there is no time for trials. The sun is free, natural, and largely harmless. Supplements are cheap, accessible without troubling the NHS and safe. People are dying and will continue to die for months to come – isn’t this a simple measure which on balance should be actioned?



Read the full blog here


(1) Deaths of NHS workers from Covid-19 analysed Health Service Journal – 22nd April 2020 https://bit.ly/352XfoH
(2) GE Healthcare Command Centre daily bulletin 22 April Distribution is unlimited. Feel free to forward. Want to join the distro?  Email “yes” to Arturo.Inda@GE.com