What Were You Thinking?

I’ve long believed in the offerings of diverse vaccines, in particular plant-based ones, that were absent throughout this pandemic.

The federal politicians can answer the idea that Canada could have potentially dodged the pandemic or a good portion of it because that fact is real. Medicago a Canadian biotech company specializing in pandemics since 1999 and a global leader in producing plant-based vaccines and therapeutics, warned the Canadian government some years back of an impending pandemic that Canada ought to prepare itself for. They lobbied government officials to build a domestic manufacturing facility for a vaccine. But no go. To utilize a tobacco plant as a cure and have a significant shareholder, namely Philip Morris, I suspect was controversial optic wise for the Canadian government associating itself with big tobacco.

Medicago distanced itself from Philip Morris and did some internal restructuring. Once again, they approached the government; this time, they were approved for funding but only a few months before the pandemic. Instead of lockdowns, we could’ve gone straight to plant-based vaccines had they been initially approved. Imagine. Meanwhile, cannabis shops started to pepper themselves throughout the country like chia seeds. A plant that had to undergo a similar assessment federally was passed. The difference between the two is perception and profit. Tobacco hasn’t had a chance to spread its wings like cannabis, where it’s used as an anti-anxiety medication, aphrodisiac or as CBD oil aiding in sleep, amongst other things. Nonetheless, most people still smoke pot. Medicago’s tobacco leaves are saving lives, not taking them.

I consume poppy seeds from the Opium Poppy known for heroin, morphine, and codeine, something many eastern European bakers use routinely in their baking. Same plant, different applications. The only mainlining I’m doing is enjoying a slice of poppy seed roll with my coffee—an example of transcending something that can harm using it instead for healing.

Plants can be used in a variety of capacities. Limiting their versatility because we have a restricted belief around their repertoire of healing which is rooted in old ideas and ignoring new opportunities because we’re stuck in judgement. Never mind magic mushrooms, Turkey Tale and Lion’s Mane mushrooms continue to be recognized for their healing properties. In Medicago’s case, it could have significantly saved our economy. To which I say, What Were You Thinking? I wish I could answer why they didn’t aggressively pursue this but, my guess – politics. Instead, mRNA vaccines took centre stage.

As Covid turns endemic, we now have chasms of separation, rooted in judgment, void of compassion, and focused on the wrong mark. We have protests and people losing their jobs. Even families quarrel internally because of everyone’s differing opinions. Recently while in a chain store, the mic came on, reminding patrons that masks were required and to be kind to one another. Yup, we even lost our civility towards each other, becoming angry and bitter because of the pandemic.

People struggled to subsidize what the politicians deemed had to be done. Politicians, void of medical degrees, continually referencing those we routinely saw on whatever media we received our news. As with any profession, some trailblazers can think outside the box. Taking routes others wouldn’t consider, not concerned about optics but about arriving significantly faster at a safe destination with the least disruption to things like our economy. We didn’t have any of those visionaries on this go-round.

Those elected to lead do not get to ignore or dismiss those they represent. That’s why it’s called Public Service. But they did. As Canadians, in a democratic society, we all have a voice, and we are all granted one vote that we get to exercise. If only federal and provincial politicians were visionaries, who listened instead of being concerned about the currency of their votes, we wouldn’t have the resistance we see around the volatile issue of vaccines and mandates.

Despite our varying opinions or judgments, we live in an imperfect world where one size does not fit all. A fact as applicable to sexy lingerie as it is to mRNA vaccines. Being vaccinated doesn’t stop the spread of a virus but protects the vaccinated individual from getting into the deeper throws by not adding to the severe bed shortages in hospitals. How about those who have the vaccine and still end up in ICU because of a reaction? The game plan is not to have anyone in ICU with any Covid related issues. So why can’t the politicians converge and mandate alternative vaccines on behalf of all their constituents? That’s a directive people would support, especially the vaccine-hesitant or those who decline it for medical reasons?

Covid has exposed flaws and a lack of resiliency in various policies and institutions across the board. Our health care system has fallen into that same category. According to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, Canada has only 12.9 intensive care beds per 100,000 people. We have fewer beds than anyone else in the developed world. Requiring our hospitals to undertake the same audit as everything else that has failed us. Ensuring that we move forward with ease and a clear strategy should we ever be in a similar situation.

Plant-based vaccines speak to utilizing nature in a manner people are demanding. It’s no accident plant-based diets are here to stay, and alternative medicines are generating billions and growing. To push against that instead of flowing with it isn’t reasonable. Canadians are calling for this, and yet their cries are being ignored. The problem being you can’t patent natural substances, which impacts the profit margin.

It appears that Pfizer’s been granted a turnstile approval concerning their vaccines, immediately authorizing whatever is next, including the latest antiviral treatment, which isn’t a substitution for the vaccine. One that is supposed to be for the most vulnerable. Ironically failing because the preexisting medications that demographic depends on can clash with this antiviral pill.

What is striking is that all the approvals passed are to firms with newly minted billionaires. Medicago is not the case. The intention behind their inoculation is how Pharma should operate but does not. It’s cost-effective, it has years of research preceding it, and it relies on a plethora of innovative technology that is natural-based. Assuming we want to attract extraordinary minds and accomplish great things as a nation, including implementing new ways of saving money within our national health care system, we need to support, prioritize, and get to market these types of innovations.

Plant-based solutions are the future, and we have a visionary Canadian company championing that charge. I question the delays with Health Canada in not getting this out there already, especially when we have an opportunity to change the landscape, not only domestically but internationally. The Liberal government is moving at glacial speed, expediting a vaccine with proven minimal side effects that could help so many.

It’s an extensive process in passing a vaccine, with time being of the essence. Still, I wonder why this couldn’t have received an express green light from the get-go, contingent on Medicago’s dire warning at their initial meeting with the government. We could’ve been well prepared if the government had just moved forward, avoiding the fallout and hardships this pandemic has brought so many, from people losing their jobs to skyrocketing opioid overdoses, not to mention food and housing insecurities.

Medicago is a forward-thinking Canadian biotech company that has done something very right. Unfortunately, they were offered their invitation to the party late. I have no affiliation to them, but as a Canadian, I support all things designed in a spirit that benefits everybody, not just some. That is the heart of our national health care and, as a nation, who we are. It is principally wrong and to the detriment of many Canadians’ health and livelihoods, whose taxpaying money is being used to further this type of research and yet unable to access it. Where are those in power whose job is to ensure an alternative solution exists? Instead, the government continues to add to the difficulties of those whose health and employment are compromised. Those considered the leaders on behalf of Canadians must start leading by doing what is right.

The politicians were the architects in creating an unvaccinated demographic. Managing the pandemic, not from evidentiary strategy but from fear, and not pursuing the intrinsic need for an alternative to mRNA like Medicago. It is one thing to deliver a vaccine; it is something else to be mindful of those unable to subscribe to it due to preexisting conditions. The Canadian government has failed in this area, qualifying only one template exclusively, mRNA. Creating a bias regarding vaccine approvals, ultimately missing a tremendous opportunity to have been better prepared.

I’m still waiting for the Federal Health Minister to clear Medicago for emergency use. It’s time for millions of unvaccinated Canadians to know that an alternative exists for them.

Poet Cleo Wade says it best. “Want to change the world – start by being brave enough to care.”