Covid Journal, August 11, 2020
Covid’s Class War
Don Pittis with the CBC has done a bit of a deep dive with the economic impact of Covid, focusing on the rift that Covid is creating when it comes to wealth in Canada and abroad.
The news isn’t good.
Effectively what we are seeing is that while parts of the economy weaken, the weakness is not shared equally. A similar process applies to people who have kept their jobs — and thus their incomes — flowing and to businesses, both able to profit from their short-term budgetary advantage.
While many smaller corporations and even more small businesses, such as corner stores and restaurants, go under, companies and individuals with a solid base and a strong cash flow can borrow at historically low rates — allowing them to stock up on assets they expect will keep their value once the crisis is over.
“COVID-19 could further exacerbate concentration, with many larger incumbents able to purchase distressed companies cheaply — as we’ve seen with the U.S. tech giants, which continue with their mergers-and-acquisition activity, even while under investigation for antitrust violations,” said Denise Hearn, co-author of The Myth of Capitalism, writing in Canada’s Hill Times last week.
In other words, the market reactions and – more importantly, the political reactions such as shutting down small businesses and allowing mega-companies like Loblaws and Costco to stay open – have compounded wealth distribution in Canada and beyond.
It’s hard not to smell conspiracy amid all of this because the reactions we’ve had to endure over the last 4-6 months have felt like nothing less than class warfare. We’re seeing cash-flow rich companies like Amazon, Costco and Loblaws resist requirements to impede the growth of Covid cases and to pay essential workers decent wages given the risks involved.
To add, the families that run these companies are richer than ever.
It’s inevitable that we will need a wealth tax and should eventually consider a ‘no billionaires’ requirement as far as our tax code goes. At a minimum, the companies that are profiting the most should be ‘asked nicely’ to do their best to offer additional support for those people that are keeping their stores open, including better wages, profit sharing, benefits and more time off.
Of course, capital is one of the few things that are still liquid in this world so those suggestions will likely only remain as such.
In the meantime, we will all need to do our best to support the local companies that have survived this disaster and help everyone develop business models that resist wealth concentration, including formats like Community Shared Agriculture (CSAs) and coop businesses.
A Possible Treatment for Covid?
The Canadian government is busy negotiating possibly dozens of different handouts to pharmaceutical companies, but specifically Pfizer and Moderna (I wonder who in the Trudeau government is connected with them?), for Covid vaccines that don’t even exist yet. And funding additional research. Good times!
To be honest, a billion dollars or so doesn’t seem like a lot of money compared to, say, a halted economy. And continuance of the class warfare that I mentioned above.
What I’m confused by is the global community pitting themselves against each other and acting like 4-year-0lds fighting over the favourite fire truck in the socially-distanced sandbox, all to funnel the world’s wealth into the pockets of a handful of companies. It’s no wonder this branch of the animal kingdom is doomed.
Beyond the competition for a vaccine, there are other options materializing. I’ve said before that I’ll be happy to stand in line for an effective and proven vaccine OR treatment for Covid so that everyone can get on with their lives, but I also remind everyone that the cure may not arrive in the form of a needle dose.
A pair of Canadian researchers are testing the use of marijuana-related CBD oil as a way to help immunize people against Covid-19.
The researchers, Olga and Igor Kovalchuck have reportedly been developing and testing a novel cannabis strain for years, except with the goal of creating a strain that helps to combat cancer and inflammation. When the pandemic hit, the duo started to focus their efforts on how the strain might be used to help fight COVID-19.
The abstract has the following to say about the research:
With the rapidly growing pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the new and challenging to treat zoonotic SARS-CoV2 coronavirus, there is an urgent need for new therapies and prevention strategies that can help curtail disease spread and reduce mortality. Inhibition of viral entry and thereby spread constitute plausible therapeutic avenues. Similar to other respiratory pathogens, SARS-CoV2 is transmitted through respiratory droplets, with potential for aerosol and contact spread. It uses receptor-mediated entry into the human host via angiotensin-converting enzyme II (ACE2) that is expressed in lung tissue, as well as oral and nasal mucosa, kidney, testes, and the gastrointestinal tract. Modulation of ACE2 levels in these gateway tissues may prove a plausible strategy for decreasing disease susceptibility.
Cannabis sativa, especially one high in the anti-inflammatory cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD), has been proposed to modulate gene expression and inflammation and harbour anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Working under the Health Canada research license, we have developed over 800 new Cannabis sativa lines and extracts and hypothesized that high-CBD C. sativa extracts may be used to modulate ACE2 expression in COVID-19 target tissues. Screening C. sativa extracts using artificial human 3D models of oral, airway, and intestinal tissues, we identified 13 high CBD C. sativa extracts that modulate ACE2 gene expression and ACE2 protein levels. Our initial data suggest that some C. sativa extract down-regulate serine protease TMPRSS2, another critical protein required for SARS-CoV2 entry into host cells.
While our most effective extracts require further large-scale validation, our study is crucial for the future analysis of the effects of medical cannabis on COVID-19. The extracts of our most successful and novel high CBD C. sativa lines, pending further investigation, may become a useful and safe addition to the treatment of COVID-19 as an adjunct therapy. They can be used to develop easy-to-use preventative treatments in the form of mouthwash and throat gargle products for both clinical and at-home use. Such products ought to be tested for their potential to decrease viral entry via the oral mucosa. Given the current dire and rapidly evolving epidemiological situation, every possible therapeutic opportunity and avenue must be considered.
The work was published in the online medical journal PrePrints. The study is associated with Pathway Research Inc. and Swysh Inc.