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Right to roam: why activists are reviving the mass trespass protests of the 1930s

The recent efforts of countryside access campaigners evoke the Kinder mass trespass of 90 years earlier.

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By ascending the plateau of Kinder Scout – a mountain in England’s Peak District owned at the time by the 10th Duke of Devonshire and guarded by gamekeepers from his nearby Chatsworth Estate – around 400 walkers committed one of the most famous acts of civil disobedience in British history on the weekend of April 24 1932.

The Kinder Trespass, as it became known, included members of the Young Communist League and British Workers Sport Federation. Their trespass that day was met with violence. Six men were arrested for assaulting the gamekeepers, unlawful assembly and breaches of the peace. Supporters, landowners and newspapers such as the Manchester Guardian followed the subsequent trials with fascination. Ultimately, the episode gained attention for various clubs and organisations campaigning for greater public access to the English countryside.

The Peak District was a symbolic choice for the trespassers. Not only was the area rich in outdoor space and natural beauty, it was also accessible to several industrial towns in the North and Midlands of England, providing a weekend escape from working life. The first world war was still a close memory, and many walking clubs included former soldiers who recalled being asked to fight for the fields and woodlands of home.

The residents of Totnes in Devon and their supporters recently invoked the spirit of the 1932 mass trespass 90 years on with an organised trespass on the Duke of Somerset’s estate in Devon. Their reception was markedly different, however. These trespassers were able to sit, play music and eat picnics. Some explored the woodland, clearing up empty shotgun cartridges and litter from the estate’s pheasant shoot.

Despite the environmental grants and farming subsidies paid to many landowners, it is claimed that only around 8% of land in England is open to the public. Just 1% of the population owns half of the land in England according to another claim, though the secrecy afforded to property trusts and corporate landowners make it difficult to provide an exact figure.

Unlike the mass trespass of 1932, there will be no high-profile court cases. Instead, the Devon trespassers have been able to use more modern methods to raise awareness of their cause. Someone in the group discovered a pit of rubbish and dead pheasants on the Duke’s land and shared the images on social media, contrasting the care taken by the trespassers with the behaviour of the landowners.

Still, there is much that unites the trespassers of 1932 and 2022. Groups that lobby for wider access to the land have always included environmentalists and ecologists eager to study and protect fenced-off nature. Both generations of campaigners have also drawn attention to the power disparity between landowners and the general public, and urged that more must be done to unite people with a countryside that should belong to everyone by right.

The right to roam

So what has changed, legally and socially, since 1932? In 2000, access activists would have been forgiven for thinking that the battle had been won. The Labour government was poised to introduce its wide-ranging Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW Act) which promised to open up great swathes of the English and Welsh countryside for public access. When environment minister Michael Meacher introduced the act to the House of Commons, he even claimed it would bring “to reality the dream of [prime minister] Lloyd George that nobody should be a trespasser in the land of their birth”.

Much of Britain’s woodland remains under lock and key. D MacDonald/Shutterstock

The CRoW Act introduced a limited compromise between walkers and landowners. People were given the right to explore mountains, moors, heath and down (unfertilised, chalky grassland) as well as registered common land. Campaigners estimate that this only covers about 8% of land in England and Wales. The CRoW Act excepted woodlands, grasslands and waterways in private hands, which remain closed to the public. Some landowners were even able to spread fertiliser to change the plant species growing on their land to exempt it from the new rules before the mapping process could be completed.

That the Guardian recently claimed that “there is no right to roam in England’s countryside” is testament to the limitations of the 2000 CRoW Act and to the frustrations of the access lobby two decades on.

The pandemic demonstrated the importance of outdoor recreational space to our physical and mental health. The right to enjoy footpaths and moorland became a contentious issue once more, as some walkers were targeted by police for exercising in the Peak District during the first national lockdown.

As the cost of living crisis bites, many people ought to question how private landowners are funded and whether the public gets good value for the money it pays in taxes. Trespassers on the Duke of Somerset’s land noted that the Duke was in receipt of public money to maintain his woodland, yet this funding came with no requirement to share the land with the public. Just as in 1932, the political and moral case for a wider right to roam is compelling.

Ben Mayfield does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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VIRI: Enrollment Complete in FORTRESS Trial; Results Expected in September 2022…

By David Bautz, PhD
NASDAQ:VIRI
READ THE FULL VIRI RESEARCH REPORT
Business Update
FORTRESS Trial Fully Enrolled; Topline Results in September 2022
On…

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By David Bautz, PhD

NASDAQ:VIRI

READ THE FULL VIRI RESEARCH REPORT

Business Update

FORTRESS Trial Fully Enrolled; Topline Results in September 2022

On April 28, 2022, Virios Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: VIRI) announced that it has completed enrollment of 425 fibromyalgia patients into the Phase 2b FORTRESS (Fibromyalgia Outcome Research Trial Evaluating Synergistic Suppression of Herpes Simplex Virus-1) trial, a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled study of IMC-1. The primary endpoint of the trial is reduction in pain and secondary endpoints include change in fatigue, sleep disturbance, global health status, and patient functionality (NCT04748705). An outline of the trial is shown below.

In parallel with the FORTRESS trial, Virios is continuing the chronic toxicology studies of IMC-1 in two animal species. The results of these studies are required by regulators before Virios will be allowed to dose patients for one year or more, which is the plan for the Phase 3 program. The results of the chronic toxicology studies should be known around the time of the completion of the FORTRESS trial, thus the company should be able to move into a final Phase 3 program following completion of the current study, pending positive results.

Testing Combination Antiviral Therapy for the Treatment of Long COVID

In February 2022, Virios announced a collaboration with the Bateman Horne Center (BHC) to test combination antiviral therapy for the treatment of Long COVID. Following an infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, approximately 30% of patients will experience symptoms that last for weeks or months, which is referred to as Long COVID. The range of symptoms varies from patient to patient, however the most commonly reported (from a recent meta analysis) were fatigue (58%), headache (44%), attention disorder (27%), hair loss (25%), and dyspnea (24%) (Lopez-Leon et al., 2021).

The main theories for what might be causing ...

Full story available on Benzinga.com

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Type-I interferon stops immune system ‘going rogue’ during viral infections

Hamilton, ON (May 17, 2022) – McMaster University researchers have found not only how some viral infections cause severe tissue damage, but also how…

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Hamilton, ON (May 17, 2022) – McMaster University researchers have found not only how some viral infections cause severe tissue damage, but also how to reduce that damage.

Credit: Georgia Kirkos/McMaster University

Hamilton, ON (May 17, 2022) – McMaster University researchers have found not only how some viral infections cause severe tissue damage, but also how to reduce that damage.

 

They have discovered how Type I interferon (IFN) stops the immune system ‘going rogue’ and attacking the body’s own tissues when fighting viral infections, including COVID-19.

 

Their paper was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens today.

  

Senior author Ali Ashkar said IFN is a well-known anti-viral signalling molecule released by the body’s cells that can trigger a powerful immune response against harmful viruses.

 

“What we have found is that it is also critical to stop white blood cells from releasing protease enzymes, which can damage organ tissue. It has this unique dual function to kick start an immune response against a viral infection on the one hand, as well as restrain that same response to prevent significant bystander tissue damage on the other,” he said.

 

The research team investigated IFN’s ability to regulate a potentially dangerous immune response by testing it on both flu and the HSV-2 virus, a highly prevalent sexually transmitted pathogen, using mice. Data from COVID-19 patients in Germany, including post-mortem lung samples, was also used in the study.

 

“For many viral infections, it is not actually the virus that causes most of the tissue damage, it is our heightened immune activation towards the virus,” said Ashkar, a professor of medicine at McMaster.

  

First co-author of the study and PhD student Emily Feng said: “Our body’s immune response is trying to fight off the virus infection, but there’s a risk of damaging innocent healthy tissue in the process. IFNs regulates the immune response to only target tissues that are infected.

 

“By discovering the mechanisms the immune system uses that can inadvertently cause tissue damage, we can intervene during infection to prevent this damage and not necessarily have to wait until vaccines are developed to develop life-saving treatments,” she added.

 

“This applies not just to COVID-19, but also other highly infectious viruses such as flu and Ebola, which can cause tremendous and often life-threatening damage to the body’s organs,” said first study co-author Amanda Lee, a family medicine resident. 

 

Ashkar said the release of harmful proteases is the result of a ‘cytokine storm’, which is life-threatening inflammation sometimes triggered by viral infections. It has been a common cause of death in patients with COVID-19, but treatment has been developed to prevent and suppress the cytokine storm.

 

Ashkar said that steroids like dexamethasone are already used to rein in an extreme immune response to viral infections. The authors used doxycycline in their study, an antibiotic used for bacterial infections and as an anti-inflammatory agent, inhibits the function of proteases causing the bystander tissue damage.

 

Lee added: “This has the potential in the future to be used to alleviate virus-induced life-threatening inflammation and warrants further research.” 

 

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

 

-30-

 

Editors:

Pictures of Ali Ashkar and Emily Feng may be found at https://bit.ly/3wmSw0D

  

 

 


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mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna fare better against COVID-19 variants of concern

A comparison of four COVID-19 vaccinations shows that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — perform better against the World…

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A comparison of four COVID-19 vaccinations shows that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — perform better against the World Health Organization’s variants of concern (VOCs) than viral vector vaccines — AstraZeneca and J&J/Janssen. Although they all effectively prevent severe disease by VOCs, the research, publishing May 17th in the open access journal PLOS Medicine, suggests that people receiving a viral vector vaccine are more vulnerable to infection by new variants.

Credit: Carlos Reusser Monsalvez, Flickr (CC0, https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)

A comparison of four COVID-19 vaccinations shows that messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines — Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — perform better against the World Health Organization’s variants of concern (VOCs) than viral vector vaccines — AstraZeneca and J&J/Janssen. Although they all effectively prevent severe disease by VOCs, the research, publishing May 17th in the open access journal PLOS Medicine, suggests that people receiving a viral vector vaccine are more vulnerable to infection by new variants.

By March 2022, COVID-19 had caused over 450 million confirmed infections and six million reported deaths. The first vaccines approved in the US and Europe that protect against serious infection are Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which deliver genetic code, known as mRNA, to the bodies’ cells, whereas Oxford/AstraZeneca and J&J/Janssen are viral vector vaccines that use a modified version of a different virus — a vector — to deliver instructions to our cells. Three vaccines are delivered as two separate injections a few weeks apart, and J&J/Janssen as a single dose.

Marit J. van Gils at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues, took blood samples from 165 healthcare workers, three and four weeks after first and second vaccination respectively, and for J&J/Janssen at four to five and eight weeks after vaccination. Samples were collected before, and four weeks after a Pfizer-BioNTech booster.

Four weeks after the initial two doses, antibody responses to the original SARS-CoV-2 viral strain were highest in recipients of Moderna, followed closely by Pfizer-BioNTech, and were substantially lower in those who received viral vector vaccines. Tested against the VOCs – Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta and Omicron – neutralizing antibodies were higher in the mRNA vaccine recipients compared to those who had viral vector vaccines. The ability to neutralize VOCs was reduced in all vaccine groups, with the greatest reduction against Omicron. The Pfizer-BioNTech booster increased antibody responses in all groups with substantial improvement against VOCs, including Omicron.

The researchers caution that their AstraZeneca group was significantly older, because of safety concerns for the vaccine in younger age groups. As immune responses tend to weaken with age, this could affect the results. This group was also smaller because the Dutch government halted use for a period.

van Gils concludes, “Four COVID-19 vaccines induce substantially different antibody responses.”

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In your coverage, please use this URL to provide access to the freely available paper in PLOS Medicine:

http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003991

Citation: van Gils MJ, Lavell A, van der Straten K, Appelman B, Bontjer I, Poniman M, et al. (2022) Antibody responses against SARS-CoV-2 variants induced by four different SARS-CoV-2 vaccines in health care workers in the Netherlands: A prospective cohort study. PLoS Med 19(5): e1003991. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1003991

 

Author Countries: The Netherlands, United States

 

Funding: This work was supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) ZonMw (Vici grant no. 91818627 to R.W.S., S3 study, grant agreement no. 10430022010023 to M.K.B.; RECoVERED, grant agreement no. 10150062010002 to M.D.d.J.), by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (grant no. INV002022 and INV008818 to R.W.S. and INV-024617 to M.J.v.G.), by Amsterdam UMC through the AMC Fellowship (to M.J.v.G.) and the Corona Research Fund (to M.K.B.), and by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program (RECoVER, grant no. 101003589 to M.D.d.J). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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