Medical experts are urging people to take Vitamin D supplements to help protect against Covid-19.
The group, from a number of Irish universities, have appealed to the Government to issue updated guidelines for all adults on Vitamin D supplements, which they say can significantly reduce the risk of infection, serious illness and death from Covid-19.
However, to date there has been no action despite mounting evidence showing the benefits of taking supplements, they say.
The group has pointed to studies describing significant reductions in death amongst older nursing home patients and substantial reductions in ICU admission rates amongst hospitalised Covid-19 patients after taking Vitamin D.
They also highlight emerging evidence from Andalucia in Spain, where a public health initiative to give Vitamin D supplements to all vulnerable groups, including those in care homes, coincided with a fall in daily death rates.
Vitamin D is lacking in the Irish population across all age groups and so experts including Professor Declan Byrne, clinical director at St James' Hospital, and Professor Rose Anne Kenny, principal investigator of TILDA, are now urging the Department of Health to increase its current guidelines.
A daily intake of 20-25 microgrammes is recommended for adults to build protection against the virus.
Another academic involved in this work, Dr Dan McCartney, who is programme director of human nutrition and dietetics at TU Dublin and Trinity College, said: "Along with mask-wearing, hand-washing, social-distancing and cough etiquette, taking Vitamin D supplements now will give the Irish population a degree of protection while the vaccine is being rolled out.”