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In December 2019, in Wuhan, China, the novel coronavirus ‘severe acute respiratory syndrome 2’ (SARS-CoV-2) was discovered as the cause of a pneumonia-like illness and subsequently named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). COVID-19 spread and is now a global pandemic. With few exceptions, countries in the Northern hemisphere have higher mortality rates from COVID-19. This may be due to an increased prevalence of older people in Northern Europe at higher risk of having cardio-pulmonary and metabolic comorbidities as well as hypovitaminosis D. With increasing age, immunosenescence and ‘inflammaging’ lead to impaired and maladaptive immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infections, contributing to the enhanced prevalence of severe COVID-19 in older patients. The association of ageing with increased vitamin D deficiency, which is associated with cardiovascular risk factors and disease and worse prognosis in COVID-19 infection, is discussed. Considerable experimental evidence demonstrates the immuno-modulatory properties of vitamin D, in particular, its role in regulating and suppressing the inflammatory cytokine response to viral respiratory infections links the importance of vitamin D sufficiency as a potential protective factor in COVID-19. There is an urgent need for prospective randomised studies to examine whether hypovitaminosis D correlates with severity of COVID-19 disease and the actual benefit of repletion. Moreover, given what has been described as a ‘pandemic of vitamin D deficiency’, especially in Europe, and in the context of the SARS-CoV-2 contagion, the authors support the call for public health doctors and physicians, with support from Governments, to prioritise and strengthen recommendations on vitamin D intake and supplementation.
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