Patty Hajdu’s Dismissal Of Vitamin D Is Another Example Of Her Dangerous Incompetence

Someone who doesn’t know much about a topic can at least have the awareness to realize they are ignorant and can listen to those who are wiser. Hajdu doesn’t even seem capable of that.

We probably agree that Patty Hajdu has been one of the worst ministers in Canadian history.

In fact, it’s hard to really make an argument otherwise.

Hajdu has been wrong and contradictory on literally every key issue during the pandemic.

At the beginning, she said the virus was low-risk and could be contained.

She – along with Justin Trudeau, Theresa Tam, and others – said ‘stigma’ was the real threat.

She said border controls ‘could cause harm.’

She downplayed masks, before pushing them, while being photographed at the airport without one, in violation of the rules being enforced by her own department.

She believed China’s numbers and trusted the CCP, even when nearly everyone else realized how big an error that was.

And of course, she repeatedly dismissed any concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine and made it seem as if the government had no worries, before the government took steps to temporarily halt its use for an investigation.

Wrong on everything

Now, this past year has been chaotic.

Making mistakes on a few issues is understandable.

However, it’s not that Patty Hajdu made a mistake on some things, she made mistakes on everything.

She was wrong over and over and over again.

Many attribute her failures to her lack of health experience, noting that she was a graphic designer.

Hajdu claims to have a “background in health and social services,” based upon her work as the Health Planner/Drug Strategy Coordinator for the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

Here’s how she describes that on her LinkedIn page:

“Over nine years in public health, I was the lead on a number of initiatives intended to reduce harmful substance use, especially in youth. Projects included the implementation of a peer mentor program (Natural Helpers) in all city high schools, supporting the development of a leadership group at Dennis Franklin Cromarty High School and bringing the first Photovoice project to the community.

I was the Chairperson of the Drug Awareness Committee for several years and worked on numerous projects through that role, including media campaigns, research (Northwestern Ontario Student Drug Use Survey) and events.

Facilitating the funding and creation of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy was the final project I conducted while in public health. This unanimously ratified strategy to reduce the harms associated with substance use in Thunder Bay is now coordinated by the City of Thunder Bay with dedicated staff and multiple working groups.”

That’s all very nice, but it clearly isn’t true health care experience of the type that would be applicable to a pandemic.

And yet, I don’t actually think that’s Hajdu’s problem.

After all, consider that Dr. Theresa Tam literally wrote a massive strategy document for dealing with pandemics, and then proceeded to ignore much of her own advice, seemingly becoming constrained by a focus on political correctness and bureaucratic positioning rather than taking action to protect the country early on.

Tam had all the experience and credentials in the world, and still seemed unable to manage the situation effectively.

So for Hajdu, rather than an experience problem, I think her issue is an ignorance problem.

Ignorance in the sense of not even knowing what she doesn’t know.

In reality, no one person can understand everything they need to know in order to run a government or a government department, and that’s why they have to work with others.

The key isn’t to know everything, but to be wise enough to understand who has valuable insight and information, and how to incorporate the expertise and skills of others into your own mindset.

In that way, someone who has effective leadership skills and an ability to learn and adapt can end up being effective, even if their own initial experience level on a given topic is low.

By contrast, someone who is unable to even process their own lack of knowledge will prove incapable of learning and incapable of adaptation, and will make the same kind of mistakes over and over again.

And that brings us to Patty Hajdu’s dismissal of Vitamin D.

In a House of Commons exchange with former Conservative MP Derek Sloan, Hajdu was asked about the extra protection Vitamin D can offer to Canadians in dealing with COVID-19.

Stunningly, she dismissed it as “fake news”:

“In response to @DerekSloanCPC , Health Minister Patty Hajdu says it’s “fake news” that Vitamin D can be taken as an additional way to protect Canadians from COVID-19. #cdnpoli”

The ignorance and incompetence shown by Hajdu in this clip cannot be overstated.

“What the bloody hell, Miss Hajdu? Do you really think you will get away with these blatant lies? I am a researcher in the field of vitamin D, and it is definitely not #FakeNews. I can give you thousands of peer-reviewed papers. Why do you lie publicly”

There is a mountain of evidence showing that individuals deficient in Vitamin D have more severe Covid-19 outcomes, and many studies have shown a clear benefit from increased Vitamin D intake.

Here is a just a sample:

Royal Society of the UK

“Vitamin D is a hormone that acts on many genes expressed by immune cells. Evidence linking vitamin D deficiency with COVID-19 severity is circumstantial but considerable—links with ethnicity, obesity, institutionalization; latitude and ultraviolet exposure; increased lung damage in experimental models; associations with COVID-19 severity in hospitalized patients. Vitamin D deficiency is common but readily preventable by supplementation that is very safe and cheap. A target blood level of at least 50 nmol l−1, as indicated by the US National Academy of Medicine and by the European Food Safety Authority, is supported by evidence. This would require supplementation with 800 IU/day (not 400 IU/day as currently recommended in UK) to bring most people up to target. Randomized placebo-controlled trials of vitamin D in the community are unlikely to complete until spring 2021—although we note the positive results from Spain of a randomized trial of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3 or calcifediol) in hospitalized patients. We urge UK and other governments to recommend vitamin D supplementation at 800–1000 IU/day for all, making it clear that this is to help optimize immune health and not solely for bone and muscle health. This should be mandated for prescription in care homes, prisons and other institutions where people are likely to have been indoors for much of the summer. Adults likely to be deficient should consider taking a higher dose, e.g. 4000 IU/day for the first four weeks before reducing to 800 IU–1000 IU/day. People admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 should have their vitamin D status checked and/or supplemented and consideration should be given to testing high-dose calcifediol in the RECOVERY trial. We feel this should be pursued with great urgency. Vitamin D levels in the UK will be falling from October onwards as we head into winter. There seems nothing to lose and potentially much to gain.”

CTV News Report

More than 80 per cent of hospitalized COVID-19 patients had vitamin D deficiency: study

Royal College of Physicians

“The severity of coronavirus 2019 infection (COVID-19) is determined by the presence of pneumonia, severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (SARS-CoV-2), myocarditis, microvascular thrombosis and/or cytokine storms, all of which involve underlying inflammation. A principal defence against uncontrolled inflammation, and against viral infection in general, is provided by T regulatory lymphocytes (Tregs). Treg levels have been reported to be low in many COVID-19 patients and can be increased by vitamin D supplementation. Low vitamin D levels have been associated with an increase in inflammatory cytokines and a significantly increased risk of pneumonia and viral upper respiratory tract infections. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increase in thrombotic episodes, which are frequently observed in COVID-19. Vitamin D deficiency has been found to occur more frequently in patients with obesity and diabetes. These conditions are reported to carry a higher mortality in COVID-19. If vitamin D does in fact reduce the severity of COVID-19 in regard to pneumonia/ARDS, inflammation, inflammatory cytokines and thrombosis, it is our opinion that supplements would offer a relatively easy option to decrease the impact of the pandemic.

Treg levels can be increased by vitamin D supplementation.3,4 The importance of vitamin D in cases of respiratory infection is illustrated by the fact that low vitamin D levels are common in populations worldwide and low levels have been associated with a significantly increased risk of pneumonia5 and viral upper respiratory tract infections.6 Vitamin D deficiency (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) <50 nmol/L) is present in 30–60% of the populations of western, southern and eastern Europe and in up to 80% of populations in middle-eastern countries.7 In addition, even more severe deficiency (serum levels <30 nmol/L) is reported in over 10% of Europeans.

Low levels of vitamin D are also associated with an increase in inflammatory cytokines.”

Based on these findings, we ask three questions. Do patients hospitalised with severe COVID-19 illness have lower vitamin D and Treg levels than COVID-19 positive patients whose illness is milder and who remain quarantined at home? Does vitamin D supplementation increase Tregs in these patients? Does vitamin D supplementation in the general population (particularly those who are vitamin D deficient) reduce hospitalisation (or days in hospital) when COVID-19 occurs? If vitamin D has beneficial effects against COVID-19, it would follow that the severity of the disease should lessen in the Northern hemisphere as exposure to increasing sunlight on the skin in springtime increases endogenous production of vitamin D through the photolysis of 7-dehydrocholesterol. Our opinion is that if vitamin D does in fact reduce the severity of COVID-19 with regard to pneumonia/ARDS, inflammation, inflammatory cytokines, and thrombosis, then supplements would offer a relatively easy option to decrease the impact of the pandemic.

Public Health Ontario – in a paper that seems to downplay Vitamin D, they nevertheless note this interesting finding:

“In roughly half of studies, higher vitamin D levels were associated with lower COVID-19 severity (n=6/12, 50.0%) and lower mortality risk (n=14/24, 58.3%). However, nine studies (n=9/24, 37.5%) found no association between vitamin D levels and mortality, and 1 study (n=1/24, 4.1%) found that higher vitamin D levels were associated with increased mortality risk.

Meta-analysis of the 12 studies that reported mortality event counts data showed a relative risk (RR) of 0.47 for mortality in patients with higher vitamin D levels (95% CI 0.28-0.81). See Figure 1.1.”

They also note this in their list of conclusions:

“The impact of vitamin D status on COVID-19 incidence and severity is uncertain. Emerging data suggest that lower vitamin D levels or lack of vitamin D supplementation is associated with a greater risk of COVID-19 incidence and severity. There is a risk for confounding given the largely retrospective and uncontrolled nature of the data that are currently available.”

Analysis of vitamin D level among asymptomatic and critically ill COVID-19 patients and its correlation with inflammatory markers

Anshul Jain, Rachna Chaurasia, Narendra Singh Sengar, Mayank Singh, Sachin Mahor & Sumit Narain

“Vitamin D deficiency markedly increases the chance of having severe disease after infection with SARS Cov-2. The intensity of inflammatory response is also higher in vitamin D deficient COVID-19 patients. This all translates to increase morbidity and mortality in COVID-19 patients who are deficient in vitamin D. Keeping the current COVID-19 pandemic in view authors recommend administration of vitamin D supplements to population at risk for COVID-19.”

Why would Hajdu dismiss all of this?

As noted, that is just a sample of the mounting evidence in favour of Vitamin D.

Now, is it all 100% definitive?

Of course not, there is still much study underway.

Yet, the direction of evidence clearly points to Vitamin D playing an important role in health outcomes related to COVID-19.

Further, after a year in which politicians were willing to decimate the economy and severely restrict our civil liberties to ‘save lives,’ why wouldn’t they follow the mounting evidence and promote the distribution of Vitamin D to all Canadians to try and save lives – particularly given the lack of strong sunlight in Canada in the winter?

Additionally, much of what governments have done has lacked evidence, with politicians desperate to be seen as ‘doing something,’ and imposing lockdowns as the most visible ‘something’ they could do, even when it didn’t make a difference and caused damage in other areas. Distributing Vitamin D would have been a tiny portion of what governments have spent, and could have been a big help (and still could, with Canada in a third wave).

If Hajdu had said something like “we are gathering more evidence about the benefits of Vitamin D but we would be glad to work with MPs on how we can improve Vitamin D supplementation of Canadians,” that would have been reasonable.

After all, it doesn’t take long to look up some of these studies and find that there is mounting evidence of Vitamin D being helpful, yet Hajdu clearly hasn’t even put in that minimal amount of work.

Instead, she just flat out dismissed it all – a very ‘anti-science’ position for someone who claims to be ‘following the science.’

The fact is, Hajdu’s dismissal of Vitamin D is the latest of many examples of her dangerous incompetence, and she clearly doesn’t have what it takes to do the job.

Spencer Fernando

Photo – Twitter


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