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The supplements will be completely optional and issued free of charge

Ocado is planning to offer employees free doses of vitamin D.

In an internal communication sighted by The Grocer, the company has told employees that “stock has been sourced” and that it is “hoping to make them available to UK employees”. The supplements will be issued “free of charge”, the staff message states.

An Ocado spokeswoman confirmed to The Grocer the plan was in its early stages. The vitamins will be completely optional with no requirement for staff to take them if not wanted, it is understood.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that having optimal blood levels of the vitamin can reduce the chance of infection by Covid, and the risk of severe disease and death as a result of having it. Last month research from the University of Cantabria in Spain found more than 80% of hospital patients with Covid-19 lacked vitamin D, compared with only 47% of the control group.

Boris Johnson earlier this month told parliament that “we are indeed looking at the possible beneficial effects of vitamin D”. It is expected the government will announce it is issuing free supplies of the supplement to care homes later this week.

The Scottish government has announced it is sending a four month supply of the vitamin to those shielding. Some scientists have called on governments to go further and add vitamin D to foods such as bread and milk to help the tackle the virus.