Rickter Scale: In search of the lost cure

Rickter Scale: In search of the lost cure

The Rickter Scale is a regular column

Rick Stiebel/Columnist

We will thankfully, mercifully, eventually emerge on the other side of the killing fields of COVID-19.

For the time being, however, this crisis of pandemic proportions caused by an invisible virus currently has the Grim Reaper working overtime in every part of the planet.

The question we must grapple with moving forward is whether to heed the advice and take to heart the lessons learned from those who saw it coming.

Doctor William Haseltine is one of the voices that raged before this particular tidal wave long before it crashed onto our shores.

The chair of ACCESS Health International had seen this before. When you have forged a career teaching at Harvard Medical School and founded two departments dedicated to research on cancer and HIV/AIDS, it’s a given that your opinion should carry considerable weight.

In a recent interview, Haseltine said when scientists worked on a SARS vaccine in 2003, all kinds of drugs were developed in China, Singapore and the United States that showed promising results in dealing with that particular viral scourge.

READ MORE: Rickter Scale

Unfortunately, these breakthroughs in research were only uncovered after SARS had run its course, so there was no “economic model” for Big Pharma to continue down that path.

Although I’m not an expert in deciphering scientific jargon, I believe “no economic model” roughly translates into there was no evidence testing and production of those drugs would increase the companies’ profit line.

Haseltine said the same pharmaceutical companies are now “racing to recover those chemicals.”

He strongly suggests that if governments had stepped in and demanded the ingredients and recipes be kept in the drug companies’ cupboard, we might be in a much better place than we are today.

Johnson & Johnson racked up $82.6 billion in profits in 2019. Roche weighed in at $63.85 billion, Pfizer banked $51.75 and Bayer squeaked by with $48 billion. And that doesn’t include profits from biotechnical companies owned by or part of larger pharmaceutical groups. (These numbers are courtesy of Wikipedia.)

The Bird Flu, SARS, AIDS, and H1N1 were ticking time bombs we were able to defuse with some degree of success, and there’s a good chance we’ll find the magic bullet for COVID-19 thanks to the efforts of dedicated scientists funded in part by pharmaceutical giants.

We need to apply enough pressure to ensure pharmaceutical conglomerates pony up the resources required to keep us ahead of the next curve, bottom lines be damned.

Judging from the millions they throw at advertising cures to the common cold and that new wave of psoriasis remedies they’re presently peddling, it’s safe to say they can afford it.

Rick Stiebel is a semi-retired local journalist.

Rickter Scale

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. SPCA’s Wild Animal Rehabilitation Centre voted favourite non-profit in the 2020 Best of the WestShore Awards. (Facebook/Wild ARC)
Wild ARC in Metchosin voted favourite non-profit for second year in a row

The rehabilitation centre treated nearly 3,000 animals last year

The president and chief executive officer of BC Ferries promises additional reviews to help sustain BC Ferries. (Black Press Media File)
BC Ferries to review expenditures following 43 per cent passenger drop in 2020

Promise from CEO follows new figures showing significant decline in passengers

Shea Smith is one of three creators of The Homeless Idea podcast. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Victoria podcasters talks homelessness first-hand

Three homeless Victoria residents created The Homeless Idea to give themselves a voice

(Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
Second driver facing impaired charges after View Royal traffic stop leads to loaded firearms

West Shore RCMP stop swerving motorist and Saanich woman who came to pick her up

Local MLA Adam Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip Nation, here seen before the 2020 provincial election, said a new report finding “widespread systemic racism against Indigenous people” in the provincial health care system does not surprise Indigenous people. (Hansard TV)
MLA, Tsartlip member says ‘silo’ approach won’t work dealing with racism in health care

Adam Olsen calls for comprehensive approach in dealing with systemic racism

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Left to right: A screenshot of NTC nurse navigator Lesley Cerney, FNHA regional mental health manager Georjeana Paterson and Island Health’s medical health officer Dr. Charmaine Enns addressing Ehattesaht community members from Ehatis reserve in a Facebook live update. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Medical team sent to Ehatis reserve near Zeballos to guide community through COVID outbreak

17 cases, eight recoveries and no hospitalizations as Island Health praises First Nation’s response

Most Read