Let’s vaccinate the whole world against the COVID-19 virus as we did with polio

Let’s vaccinate the whole world against the COVID-19 virus as we did with polio

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash

Let’s vaccinate the whole world against the COVID-19 virus as we did with polio

By Guest Writer


There was a time when the good of the world was put ahead of the profit of a nation or a company. Polio ran wild throughout the world, debilitating millions of children for decades until doctors Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin developed the vaccine in 1955, still in use today.

When CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow asked Salk who owned the vaccine, Salk responded, “Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Can you patent the sun?” Salk never patented his vaccine, thereby creating what we would call today an “open source” vaccine available for replication throughout the world. Within a generation, polio was nearly eradicated from the planet.

As of this writing, nearly 1.5 million people have died of COVID-19 all over the world. That’s twice the population of Seattle. Pharmaceutical companies have teamed up with major universities in a race to find the vaccine to stop this pandemic in its tracks.

Now they report success. They’ve found the virus’s vulnerability and engineered ways to block it. This is the most exciting news of 2020. What a triumph!

“This is one instance where capitalism’s market-as-driver is in direct conflict with a greater moral imperative”

Right on its heels comes news of hackers who have attempted to access proprietary data that would reveal the formulations for these vaccines, potentially allowing anyone to create and distribute their own vaccines. Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, dedicated an entire blog post last month to the horrors of this hacking. And, in a recent KIRO 7 report, journalist Gary Horcher explained, “The country able to reopen their economy first would suddenly have a geopolitical advantage worth untold billions of dollars.”

The moral imperative undergirding Salk’s response to the question about patent seems nowhere to be found in the current conversation about vaccines. Instead of offering free, worldwide access to the formulas, thereby allowing all governments the ability to work together for quick, local development and distribution, pharmaceutical companies, universities and governments are spending millions of dollars on cybersecurity companies to hide their formulas from the world.

Imagine everyone in your neighbourhood is dying of a highly contagious illness, and you all know Neighbor X has come up with a cure. Rather than give everyone in the neighbourhood the cure, Neighbor X builds a wall and hires security guards to stand atop the wall and keep everyone out.

The entire neighbourhood can hear Neighbor X’s family laughing and partying away. Meanwhile, neighbours continue to die. Your child dies.

Horcher observed in his report that the motivation for protecting the vaccine formula is a presumption of financial advantage. There is much wrong with this view of the world, steeped as it is in a form of what some are calling vaccine nationalism.

What Horcher didn’t say, but can be inferred, is what will happen to those countries that are not first to vaccinate. Not only will they not make “untold billions of dollars,” their citizens will die at an unnecessary rate. And what impact will that have on their future trust and relationships with the countries that held the vaccines behind cyber walls?

Let’s make the formulas public and allow scientists around the world to have free access to replicate the results. This provides local control and a standard against which health systems can ensure the safety of the vaccine, while simultaneously providing distribution to billions of people by creating hundreds of sources, thus eradicating the virus more quickly.

Like the post-World War II Marshall Plan, in which the U.S. provided the equivalent of $217 million toward the recovery of European countries, there is much to be gained in helping the rest of the world recover.

Contrary to the 1980s adage, in this case, greed is not good. Greed is death. This is one instance where capitalism’s market-as-driver is in direct conflict with a greater moral imperative.

As we move into this season of giving, shouldn’t we rely more on, “love thy neighbour as thyself” and provide the world with free and equal access to all information about the vaccine?

As major stakeholders who have contributed great amounts of money, space, training and other resources to the research facilities of these universities, we have a right, in fact, an obligation, to demand just that.

Crosscut is a service of Cascade Public Media, a nonprofit, public media organization. Visit crosscut.com/membership to support independent journalism.




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Petition put to BC Legislature: restore North Island pathology

North Island MLA Claire Trevena presented a petition signed by over 2,500 people to the BC Legislature Nov. 20 that calls for the return of onsite clinical pathologists’ services to the Campbell River Hospital and to investigate possible conflicts of interest within Island Health

Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

Rob Thompson, candidate for the Area C position on the Comox Valley School Board  |  Submitted photo

Rob Thompson: SD 71 trustee candidate looks at the future of education post-pandemic

By Guest Writer


At this stage, we should be preparing for worst-case scenario. Covid-Coronavirus is showing no signs of dissipating soon. The remainder of this item is offered with absolute respect and is in no way intended to make light of the situation. People are passing away from this disease.

That said, the pandemic eventually will loosen its grasp on our lives and our economy, and we will have fiscal liabilities remaining at every level of government – Federal, Provincial, Municipal. One way of offsetting at least some of these deficits will be to use the most cost-effective methods for the delivery of services.

Online-virtual education at Kindergarten-Grade 12 level seems set to be one of these cost-effective services.

I did an MA in Leadership at Royal Roads on the cusp of this century, completing a thesis in implementing online education (k-12). I was then hired by RRU to, over the next decade-plus. instruct cohorts of administrators, both domestic and international, in which technologies-programs at the time best suited K-12 learners – and to instruct teachers, both domestic and international, in how best to utilize the technologies selected to engage K-12 learners to maximum effect.

My situation was therefore balanced positively, as I was working with K-12 administrators and teachers at the same time I was working with secondary school students themselves day-to-day.

I am in the process of completing my Education Doctorate, with a thesis on the topic of what K-12 learners in this current (2020) decade bring to the table in terms of preferences, skills, knowledge and attributes. The majority proportion of these students seem well prepared to maximize their learning in online-virtual environments, quite possibly reducing the need for as many face-to-face learning sessions and therefore reducing the need for as many face-to-face spaces.

I don’t claim to know everything about these complex areas of education.

Nor do I know everything about every one of the learners in the K-12 pipeline. They are your daughters and your sons: you know them better than anyone. So we will need you to step up and engage in the conversation. If elected as a Trustee for SD71, I will invite you to participate in this conversation.

There is nothing to say there is not a ‘sweet spot’ (a mix of online-virtual and face-to-face learning experiences) that extends each child’s learning to the maximum possible for that child.

With that in mind, space is space. Space can be used by any number of processes. Down island, the kilns of a no longer functioning mill have been converted to both work and office spaces for small businesses. Imagine a scenario where fewer face-to-face learning experiences mean consolidation of existing ‘schools’ into fewer buildings – leaving the remaining buildings for, well, housing, or offices, or other necessary, potential revenue-creating activities.

Education for every child remains my priority – and my focus should I be elected Trustee.

That includes the possibilities that might become available for our indigenous children. Imagine the possibilities of an indigenous child from our community joining an online-virtual environment shared by other indigenous children located internationally, with all of that access to countless centuries of ‘ways of knowing’ and techniques of knowledge dissemination.

All of this is possible. Vote for me, and let’s fire up the conversation.



Due to the resignation of the formerly elected Area C representative, voters will go to the polls on Saturday, Dec. 12 to choose a new school board trustee. The six candidates are:

Randi Baldwin, Kandice Bielert, Monica Parkin, Terence Pruden, Cristi May Sacht and Robert Thompson.

All candidates are welcome to submit articles for publication on this website.


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Obituary: Fr. Charles Brandt, first Catholic hermit priest in several hundred years

Obituary: Fr. Charles Brandt, first Catholic hermit priest in several hundred years

Fr. Charles in his studio at The Hermitage  |  George Le Masurier photo

Obituary: Fr. Charles Brandt, first Catholic hermit priest in several hundred years

By Guest Writer
Written by Bruce Witzel

Rev. Charles Brandt noted conservationist, hermit monk, and priest of the Diocese of Victoria, died in the early hours of Sunday, October 25. A spiritual guide and inspiration to many beyond the Catholic Church, Charles was in the North Island Hospital in Comox Valley at the time of his death from pneumonia. He was in his 97th year.

Father Brandt lived for nearly five decades at his forested hermitage next to Oyster River. In 2019, those 27 acres were put into a permanent land conservancy and Charles has bequeathed the property to the Comox Valley Regional District for use as a public park. An active contemplative person of prayer who has concern for the Sacred Commons will live in the hermitage to follow in Charles’ footsteps.

Brandt was the sole surviving member of a unique hermit community originally established in 1964 near the Tsolum River in Merville, B.C. Bishop Remi De Roo ordained Brandt in 1966 as the first hermit priest in several hundred years within the Roman Catholic Church. This
eremitical tradition had fallen into disuse in western churches after the Reformation and was reconstituted through later reforms of the Second Vatican Council 1962-65, in which a young Remi De Roo participated.

Brandt was in communication with world-famous Trappist monk and author, Thomas Merton, about joining the community on Vancouver Island in 1968 at the time of Merton's death. Brandt had originally entered monastic life as a Trappist at New Melleray, Iowa.

Brandt earned his keep as an art and paper conservationist by setting up a special lab at his hermitage. He gained world renown for restoring many historical books like The Nuremberg Chronicles printed in 1493, many older bibles, and one of the original books of The Audubon Series.

He taught Christian meditation practice at the hermitage and led other retreats, inspiring many people over the decades. He occasionally filled in as a parish priest in The Comox Valley and Campbell River. 

Father Brandt rose at 3 AM to meditate, read psalms and practice daily liturgy. During early hours, he often meandered into nature to observe birds and wildlife and to take photographs. In his book Self and Environment, he describes this walking meditation as a time when “Every atom of my being is present to every atom in the universe, and they to it.”

In later years, Brandt was much celebrated in public ways which included media profiles and reports on his pioneer environmental work. He is credited with heading up the effort that saved the Tsolum River from industrial degradation.

His stature as a spiritual teacher as well as his whole legendary reputation as someone who integrated spirituality with ecology will live on after him in the lives and efforts of the many people he directly inspired.

Fr. Charles is survived by his sister-in-law, Wanda Brandt, and numerous nephews, nieces and their children and grandchildren in the Kansas City area and around the United States. He was predeceased by his parents, Anna (nee Bridges) and Alvin Brandt, brothers Frank and Chet, and sisters Frances, Mary and Ella.

Donations in remembrance of Charles can be made to St. Andrews Cathedral in Victoria, the Tsolum River Restoration Society, Comox Valley Nature Society, the Oyster River Enhancement Society or the Brandt Oyster River Hermitage Society.

FURTHER READING: A Long and Winding Journey



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CV watershed virtual forum to explore climate change, landscape restoration

CV watershed virtual forum to explore climate change, landscape restoration

View from Comox Lake out to the Strait of Georgia  |  Submitted photo

CV watershed virtual forum to explore climate change, landscape restoration

By Guest Writer

The Comox Valley Land Trust, Cumberland Community Forest Society and Connected by Water are presenting a free 3-part event highlighting exciting projects and initiatives that are reconnecting ecology and hydrology in the built and natural environments of the Comox Valley.

This virtual seminar will take place October 21-23 and offers attendees from across sectors a unique opportunity to learn about the power of collaboration to mobilize and respond effectively to the impacts of climate change on the local landscape.

Wednesday October 21st at 7 pm – FREE Online Public Event:  Stitching Together Altered Landscapes: Conservation, Community and Resilience.

Over the past 150 years, the Comox Valley landscape has been transformed by logging, coal mining, agriculture, road building, industry, and development. These altered landscapes are where the local impacts of climate change – flooding, erosion, and loss of biodiversity – first become evident. But these altered landscapes also hold the greatest potential for building resiliency. Kus-Kus-Sum, The Courtenay Estuary, Morrison Headwaters, Perseverance Watershed, Comox Lake – these places are at the heart of our local climate story.

Join archeologist Jesse Morin, Comox Valley Land Trust ED Tim Ennis, Cumberland Community Forest Society ED Meaghan Cursons, and Project Watershed staff biologist Jennifer Sutherst for a visual exploration of local land use history and current day conservation in action from mountain top to ocean floor. Together, in partnership with local government, indigenous leadership, industry, and community, we are stitching together altered landscapes of the Comox Valley.

Thursday October 22 9-10:20 am: Water, Place and Reconciliation

What is the starting place for our work in water sustainability, landscape restoration, and facing the impacts of a changing climate? It starts with an understanding of the culture, land, water, and stories of the places where we do our work. Join us for this welcome to the territory of the K’ómoks First Nation and an introduction to the exciting projects underway that demonstrate our shared commitments.

Thursday October 22, 10:30-12 noon: Regional Collaboration toward Natural Asset Management

The Comox Valley has never witnessed the scale of cross sector and cross jurisdictional work toward watershed sustainability than we have in the past 5 years. At the forefront of these collaborations are the Watershed Advisory Group, the Comox Lake Municipal Natural Assets Initiatives and recent land protection actions in the Comox Lake Watershed. This session will explore the complexities and opportunities of this regional collaboration at work.

Friday October 23rd, 9-10:20 am: Engaging Community in Climate Strategies – Projects and Tactics

Local government leadership is making it clear that meaningful community engagement and climate change awareness are critical to all levels of community planning. What tactics make a real impact? How do we deepen interest and engagement to achieve success? From official community plan processes to sea rise response strategies – community engagement in climate adaptation is at the top of the agenda.

Friday October 23rd, 10:30-12: Connected by Water- Building a Legacy of Watershed Protection

Connected by Water is a program of the Comox Valley Regional District to build capacity, connection, and community in support of watershed protection. This project connects schools, parks, sporting events, campgrounds and the public to stories and actions that help support the health of our watershed. Learn more about the approaches, messages, and successes of this project and how it can be applied to our collective efforts to support a climate-resilient watershed in the Comox Valley.

Registration is now open for the 3 sessions taking place Wednesday evening, October 21st, and Thursday and Friday mornings, October 2nd and 23rd. Attendees are invited to attend individual sessions or all 3 days. Visit www.cvlandtrust.ca/2020-symposium/ for panelist bios and registration links.




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About Comox Valley Conservation Partnership (CVCP)
The CVCP was formed in 2008, after concern was raised that there was no regional plan in the Comox Valley to prioritize and protect sensitive ecosystems on private land. The CVCP brings together local community-based groups and other stakeholders to support their projects and provide a voice for the value of conservation in our natural areas.

About Cumberland Community Forest Society (CCFS)
CCFS is a grassroots community based charitable not-for-profit dedicated to land protection, restoration and biodiversity in the Cumberland Forest that borders the Village of Cumberland on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. This forest is part of a significant habitat and recreation corridor that connects the mountains of the Beaufort Range to the Salish Sea.




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Father Charles Brandt honored by Canadian Museum of Nature

Father Charles Brandt honored by Canadian Museum of Nature

Father Charles Brandt on the front porch of his Oyster River hermitage  |  Grant Callegari photos

Father Charles Brandt honored by Canadian Museum of Nature

By Guest Writer

When the Canadian Museum of Nature announced the finalists for its
2020 Nature Inspiration Awards, there was only one name in the Lifetime Achievement category: Father Charles Brandt.

A well-known environmentalist in the Comox Valley and Strathcona regional districts, Father Charles was nominated for the award by the Comox Valley Land Trust.

Father Charles has devoted his life to protecting and preserving natural habitats and has inspired generations of volunteers to work together to protect and preserve forests and rivers.

As a spiritual leader and conservationist, Father Charles helped establish the Tsolum River Task Force, which ultimately became
the Tsolum River Restoration Society. At age 97, he continues to act as one of the society’s directors.

Father Charles Brandt

Father Charles was also instrumental in creating the Oyster River Enhancement Society, contributing to the return of salmon and trout stocks on that also once-decimated river. He served as an ORES director and remained active in the society until 2014 when he was appointed a director emeritus.

Beginning in the early 1990s, he was also part of the Oyster River Watershed Management Committee, a roundtable of
government, industry and citizen representatives advocating for improved forest management activities. Father Charles remained active with the ORMC until it disbanded in 2012.

Father Charles’ home is along the Oyster River. In 2019 he granted a conservation covenant on his 27-acre property to the Comox Valley Land Trust. This action will protect the mature forest and riparian areas in perpetuity. Father Charles intends to donate the land to the Comox Valley Regional District as parkland.

Reacting to news of the Canadian Nature Museum’s award, Father Charles wrote, “With [cultural historian] Thomas Berry I can only say that the human community and the natural world must go into the future as a single sacred community. This is a step in that direction. Thank you.”

“We are pleased to see Father Charles recognized on the national stage for his work here on Vancouver Island,” said Comox Valley Land Trust Executive Director Tim Ennis. “His decision to leave his property to the CVRD as parkland, with a conservation covenant held by the land trust that will protect it forever, sets a strong example for others.”

Father Charles will receive his award when the winners in the other six categories are announced on November 25. Winners in each category receive $5,000 they can designate to a nature-related program of their choice.

FURTHER READING: Father Charles: A Long and Winding Journey



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The Week: Take our local government survey!

Are you satisfied with the performance of your Comox Valley elected officials? In 20 months and three weeks, voters will go to the polls again. So we’re curious how Decafnation readers feel about their councillors, mayors, directors and school trustees halfway through their current terms in office