Covid-19 and the Miracle of Latkes

Teddy Forsman loved his wife Annabelle more than anything in the world. She was his rock, his supporter, and his best friend. He had read that because of the pandemic during Home Isolation there was a record number of marriages breaking up. Teddy couldn’t understand it. He loved being with his wife.

The biggest problem Teddy had was his inability to not stop eating. He worked out, he walked outside, he did everything he could to keep active, but he was becoming a mound of round.

Annabelle loved to cook and bake it was her thing and he was the official taster. ‘’Honey, I just made a flour less carrot cake and I used some new ingredients, would you like to sample it?’’ Teddy would be in the kitchen in seconds. He would try a piece and that inevitably led to a second piece. Annabelle would have to shoo him away. They both loved the kibitzing.

Teddy and Annabelle had been married three years and their relationship had always been strong. They met each other at a business symposium and they had never looked back.

Annabelle had a Masters Degree in Law and Teddy was a PHD in biotechnology, which meant he evaluated new biotech products that were coming on the market. He provided analysis about the potential of the product to Boyton Bester Inman, an investment firm that he worked for. He had been wrapped up in the test results of different vaccines that were coming on the market to fight Covid-19. He was examining the different pros and cons of each vaccine that was being distributed to the public. It was important and serious work, so a nice piece of carrot cake or a new Tiramisu to taste was a nice diversion and was very much appreciated.

One of the vaccines that was going to come on the market was from China. It was unheralded and nobody knew very much about it. As Teddy studied the medical information from supposed test results, there was something he was missing regarding the Chinese vaccine and he couldn’t figure it out.

Canada had not procured enough vaccines and all the companies that were producing were at max capability, so the Government was planning to stockpile the CS01 Vaccine from China. The one he was studying. Teddy just couldn’t figure out if it was a smart move. There was something bothering him about the vaccine that he couldn’t put his finger on. He knew his company was anxious to get the information, but there was something bigger at stake, people’s lives. As soon as he did his report he knew that Boyton Bester Inman would be in touch with the government about his findings. He knew it was essential to do a deep analysis of ingredients and potential interdiction.

Annabelle was setting up the first candles in the Menorah to celebrate Hanukkah. She had come from a very religious family but had become more conservative over the years which is where Teddy was at. They were both proudly Jewish but they looked at themselves as moderates. When asked to qualify their faith they categorized themselves as Conservadox.

Teddy’s phone rang and he was shocked to see it was Allan Bester. He never called. On occasion he had his Executive Assistant call, but he never seemed to have time to talk to any of his ‘’research’’ people.

‘’Forsman, it’s Allan Bester. I understand you are doing the report on the Covid-19 vaccines. I have a meeting tomorrow with the Minister of Health for Canada and her team. It is mostly about moving forward with ordering CS01. The reason I am so involved is our company is a private investor with the Research Council and they need our take. We have always given input when it comes to international investment on health products and we have always been on the right side of things. This is the most important involvement we’ve ever had. Have you reviewed the components of CS01 and the test results? What do you think, you can tell me informally and have the report sent to me tomorrow morning. I am concerned about the data the Chinese Government has provided, I hate to say it, but I think it might be skewed. What are your thoughts?’’

‘’Mr. Bester I am not convinced that we have enough working models to project the long term effects of the different vaccines on people. I don’t know if the vaccines will break down and lead to compromised immune systems. However, I think the major pharmaceutical companies have done a great job in the limited time they’ve had for manufacturing and distribution. I am fine with all the majors but there is something causing me to have reservations about CS01. I’m sorry but I haven’t been able to deduce what it is that is gnawing at me about the vaccine. As soon as I know I will pass the information on to you.’’

There was a pause ‘’Forsman, put everything in your report. If you can pinpoint the problem before tomorrow morning, highlight it and give it prominence in the Analysis documents. We are all counting on you.’’

Teddy hung up and felt nervous. It felt like all of Canada was counting on him and he didn’t know how to detect the problem which was more of a gut feeling than anything else. He went back into his office and started rereading the CS01 breakdowns.

Annabelle called from the kitchen to tell Teddy it was time to light the Menorah. They had placed the Menorah on a table facing the window. The idea was to shine light on the inside and outside.

Annabelle looked gorgeous. She was wearing an apron that read ‘’Always remember to kiss the cook’’, so Teddy gave her a passionate kiss and all his thoughts about vaccines vanished.

They lit the Menorah together, sang the traditional song ‘’Rock of Ages’’ and sat down to eat. Annabelle had prepared a brisket and latkes. She had ground up McIntosh apples to make apple sauce. The apple sauce was a prefect compliment to the potato pancakes.

The brisket was delicious and the latkes with the apple sauce was very good. ‘’Sorry about the latkes, I used a different oil this year and it just didn’t seem to work as well with the potatoes.’’ Teddy blankly looked at his wife. She looked back ‘’ I mean the oil last year held the latkes together, this year using a different oil the latke didn’t have the same consistency. The taste was okay, but I’m going back to using the oil I used last year. Uh, Are you okay Teddy?’’ He nodded and jumped up from the table ‘’You might not believe this, but I think your latkes may have just saved Canadian lives. It’s a Hanukkah miracle. You have to excuse me, I’ll eat more later but you have just helped me solve a huge issue.

Teddy almost ran to his office and he pulled out the CS01 data and compared it to the other vaccines. He had found the problem thanks to Annabelle. The CS01 vaccine had no bonding agent to allow for the vaccine to enter the bloodstream and disperse after impact with red blood cells. CS01would instead go directly to the pulmonary arteries before breaking up, which could cause ruptures to the myocardial veins. The long and short of it was the vaccine could be effective, but if the bonding agent didn’t allow the vaccine to dilute through the whole body it could case damage to interior walls leading to a whole new set of issues. The CS01 vaccine needed to change the bonding agent it was using or it could result in doing internal damage to healthy organs. Teddy knew time was of the essence, but having people die because the vaccine’s composition was wrong was not the solution.

Teddy spent the next two hours finishing his report and sending it off to the key people at his firm including Allan Bester. A few minutes after he sent it Bester was on the phone. ‘’Forsman, brilliant. Our Microbiology people can’t believe they missed the bonding angle. They are validating what you wrote and believe it is a brilliant piece of work. Congratulations, you were excellent under pressure and will be receiving a bonus reflective of your efforts. I just need you to tell me one thing. How did you figure it out. How did you realize it was the bonding agent that could cause the problem. We are all anxious and interested to find out how you drilled it down.’’ Teddy Forsman looked over at his wife and a huge smile came across his face. ‘’I can answer all your questions with one one word, Latkes.’’

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.

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