Association of Vitamin D Deficiency and Treatment with COVID-19 Incidence

medRxiv. 2020 May 13;2020.05.08.20095893. doi: 10.1101/2020.05.08.20095893. Preprint


Importance: Vitamin D treatment has been found to decrease incidence of viral respiratory tract infection, especially in vitamin D deficiency. It is unknown whether COVID-19 incidence is associated with vitamin D deficiency and treatment.

Objective: To examine whether vitamin D deficiency and treatment are associated with testing positive for COVID-19.

Design: Retrospective cohort study Setting: University of Chicago Medicine Participants: Patients tested for COVID-19 from 3/3/2020-4/10/2020. Vitamin D deficiency was defined by the most recent 25-hydroxycholecalciferol <20ng/ml or 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol <18pg/ml within 1 year before COVID-19 testing. Treatment was defined by the most recent vitamin D type and dose, and treatment changes between the time of the most recent vitamin D level and time of COVID-19 testing. Vitamin D deficiency and treatment changes were combined to categorize vitamin D status at the time of COVID-19 testing as likely deficient(last-level-deficient/treatment-not-increased), likely sufficient(last-level-not-deficient/treatment-not-decreased), or uncertain deficiency(last-level-deficient/treatment-increased or last-level-not-deficient/treatment-decreased). Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcome was testing positive for COVID-19. Multivariable analysis tested whether the most recent vitamin D level and treatment changes after that level were associated with testing positive for COVID-19 controlling for demographic and comorbidity indicators. Bivariate analyses of associations of treatment with vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 were performed.

Results: Among 4,314 patients tested for COVID-19, 499 had a vitamin D level in the year before testing. Vitamin D status at the time of COVID-19 testing was categorized as likely deficient for 127(25%) patients, likely sufficient for 291(58%) patients, and uncertain for 81(16%) patients. In multivariate analysis, testing positive for COVID-19 was associated with increasing age(RR(age<50)=1.05,p<0.021;RR(age≥50)=1.02,p<0.064)), non-white race(RR=2.54,p<0.01) and being likely vitamin D deficient (deficient/treatment-not-increased:RR=1.77,p<0.02) as compared to likely vitamin D sufficient(not-deficient/treatment-not-decreased), with predicted COVID-19 rates in the vitamin D deficient group of 21.6%(95%CI[14.0%-29.2%] ) versus 12.2%(95%CI[8.9%-15.4%]) in the vitamin D sufficient group. Vitamin D deficiency declined with increasing vitamin D dose, especially of vitamin D3. Vitamin D dose was not significantly associated with testing positive for COVID-19.

Conclusions and relevance: Vitamin D deficiency that is not sufficiently treated is associated with COVID-19 risk. Testing and treatment for vitamin D deficiency to address COVID-19 warrant aggressive pursuit and study.

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  • Preprint