Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Health
594. To ask the Minister for Health if the business practice of cold-calling in person to persons' homes is permitted during Covid-19 restrictions; if it is provided for within the levels for the plan for living with Covid-19; if so, the levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44473/20]
On Tuesday 15 September the Government published ‘Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021: Plan for Living with COVID-19’. This Plan outlines our medium-term strategy for COVID-19 and sets out a Framework of 5 Levels which outline the broad measures which will apply depending on the level of the virus at any given time. It will be possible for different regions and counties to be at different levels, depending on prevailing epidemiological situation . The Plan is designed to help everyone – individuals, organisations and sectors – to better understand, anticipate and prepare for the measures that might be introduced to contain transmission of the virus. The purpose of restrictive measures and associated regulations is to restrict movement so as to contain transmission of the virus.
At Level 1,2 and 3 of the Plan cold calling in person depends on the service being offered, but is generally permitted having regard to specific regulations in place. Regulations are available here:
At Levels 4 and 5, only essential services are permitted and these are listed online () and in relevant regulations (most recently in Statutory Instrument 442 (Level 4) and Statutory Instrument 448 (Level 5)). At Levels 4 and 5 cold calling in person should not take place. While certain trades people are permitted to carry out works in homes at Level 4 and Level 5 this should be on the request of the homeowner and in accordance with the relevant Regulations.
595. To ask the Minister for Health the steps he is taking in response to evidence from a cross-disciplinary group of Irish researchers (details supplied) that a sufficient level of vitamin D helps to safeguard against susceptibility to Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44476/20]
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin for bone and muscle health as well as to support the normal functioning of the immune system.
Vitamin D can be found in a variety of food such as oily fish, eggs, liver and fortified cereal and dairy products, humans can also absorb it from the sun.
With regard to Covid-19, the HSE advises that those who are self-isolating or who are unable to go outside should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D to ensure a healthy vitamin D status for adults and children over the age of one.
The role of vitamin D supplementation in the prevention or treatment of COVID-19 has not been definitively established. The rationale for using vitamin D is based largely on immunomodulatory effects that could potentially protect against COVID-19 infection or decrease the severity of illness. Ongoing observational studies are evaluating the role of vitamin D in preventing and treating COVID-19. Emerging evidence in relation to this will be kept under review by the NPHET.
596. To ask the Minister for Health the details of the agreement between his Department and the Food Safety Authority of Ireland to commission the recent review by the authority of the national vitamin D guidelines; if a literature review was required as part of the report; if the review referred to the issue of Covid-19; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44477/20]
In response to a request from the Department of Health, the Scientific Committee of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) are developing Scientific Recommendations for Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for people aged 65 years and older. This report is expected to be completed at the end of 2020.
In view of media coverage over the spring months regarding vitamin D supplementation for this age group, the Department requested the FSAI to fast-track its advice on this issue to provide an evidence base to underpin public health policy for vitamin D supplementation for this age group.
The full report is available at: .
While the request for advice on Vitamin D sought by the Department of Health was solely related to Vitamin D supplementation in older adults and how best to prevent vitamin D deficiency taking dietary sources and supplementation into consideration, during the course of their literature review, the FSAI reviewed the research evidence relating to COVID and Vitamin D. They assessed two recent rapid evidence reviews conducted in the UK which summarised the best available scientific evidence on vitamin D and risk of COVID-19 (NICE, 2020) and acute respiratory tract infections (SACN, 2020). After reviewing the acknowledged limited evidence base and lack of RCT data, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) concluded that there is no evidence to support taking vitamin D supplements to specifically prevent or treat COVID-19. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) concluded that the evidence on vitamin D supplementation and acute respiratory tract infection risk was inconsistent and generally did not show a beneficial effect of vitamin D supplementation on infectious disease risk.
Regardless of whether vitamin D deficiency is a risk for poor outcome due to COVID-19, the practice of staying indoors is a risk factor for vitamin D deficiency because it curtails skin production of vitamin D by minimising exposure to natural sunlight. The new Department advice for all older adults 65 years and over to take a 15 microgram supplement of Vitamin D daily will help reduce vitamin D deficiency in this population.
The Department has prepared a fact sheet on vitamin D supplementation for older people which can be found at