From next month, vitamin D supplements will be delivered to more than two million clinically extremely vulnerable people along with all care home residents, across England. The supplies are intended to last throughout the winter, when the NHS already recommends that people should consider taking the vitamin.
A senior Government source said: “We are going to make sure those most in need of vitamin D can access a free supply over the winter months. Some studies suggest Vitamin D supplementation could have a positive impact for people suffering with Covid-19.”
In June, a formal review by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (Nice) concluded there was insufficient evidence to recommend that vitamin D protects against the virus.
However, Mr Hancock told MPs last month that more studies had since come to light, saying: “I have asked the scientists to look once again at the impact of vitamin D on resistance and immunity. There has been some updated evidence that has come to light in the past few weeks, and I want to ensure that it is fully taken into account.”
MPs including the former Brexit secretary David Davis have been calling for the Government to consider distributing vitamin D to vulnerable people in England.
Speaking during Prime Minister’s Questions last week, Mr Davis said: “The Scottish Government are sending four months supply of vitamin D to everybody who shielded in Scotland. Given that it is low cost and there is no medical downside, will our Government consider the same approach in England?”
Mr Johnson replied: “He is entirely right that we are indeed looking at the possible beneficial effects of vitamin D.”
Some 2.2 million people classed as “extremely vulnerable” to Covid have been issued with guidance on protecting themselves in the coming months after the Government dropped the formal shielding scheme deployed during the first wave.