UK police interfere with the right to peaceful protest

The right to a peaceful protest has always been the cornerstone of democracy. Clearly no longer in this post-covid totalitarian era. Yet, protests against ongoing draconian restrictions and lockdowns continue around Europe as governments grant themselves yet more emergency powers to battle the alleged second wave of covid-19. In the UK, police arrested a defenceless elderly woman for expressing her opinion peacefully in the street outside Parliament. The event triggered an angry tirade in Parliament from outspoken government critic, Sir Charles Walker, who witnessed the treatment of the woman as police bundled her into a police van. He spoke for many as he remonstrated, “…this is a disgrace, this is unBritish, it is unconstitutional” as he called on the Government to end such injustices now. The pandemic has handed governments, globally, unprecedented levels of coercive powers, which are being used to control and suppress citizens through the removal of fundamental personal liberties, rights and freedoms. The spiral into totalitarianism may present a far greater threat to our health than the virus has ever posed.

Covid vaccines confusion both sides of the pond

The Chief Medical Officer of US biotech and vaccine maker, Moderna, Tal Zaks, warned this week that its vaccine may not prevent the transmission of the virus that causes covid-19. In an interview with Axios, he also stated efficacy claims made in a recent press release relate only to protecting someone against getting sick. Echoing many people’s concerns, a US-based doctor is calling for transparency over the range of side-effects that people can expect to suffer following covid vaccination.
AstraZeneca that is commercialising the Oxford vaccine also announced interim results for its vaccine. There has been confusion as the company admitted it made a mistake when administering the vaccine during the trial, which has resulted in an apparently higher efficacy rate than the standard protocol. After the results were called into question by a leading analyst, AstraZeneca’s share price slumped. In the race to become the first to bring a vaccine into public use, many questions remain unanswered increasing not only the general population’s concerns, but also that of health professionals. These examples amply demonstrate why we need a new narrative around vaccine transparency to ensure properly informed consent for vaccines created at ‘warp speed'.

CBD isn’t a narcotic, says European Court

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the highest court in European Union, has ruled that CBD is not a narcotic, nor does it pose a threat to human health. The ruling comes as part of a case brought against a Czech company in France which produces CBD from the whole hemp plant, as French law only allows the sale of CBD extracted from hemp fibre and seeds or synthetically produced CBD. The ruling noted the difference between THC and CBD, stating "unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (commonly called THC), another hemp cannabinoid, the CBD at issue does not appear to have any psychotropic effect or any harmful effect on human health".  

The ruling may help to reverse the block that has been in place because the European Commission had paused its processing of novel food applications that it would typically forward to the EU’s ‘highest authority’ on food and food safety, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), for evaluation. The pause was triggered because of the realisation that an International Narcotic Convention classification of ‘extracts and tinctures’ from the flowering tops of cannabis (hemp) plant (Cannabis sativa) dating back to 1961as being 'narcotic'. The European Commission is waiting on findings from the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in December before deciding whether or not to ease restrictions on cannabis and CBD. Legal changes are unlikely to happen overnight, but the ruling is a positive step for the CBD industry although there are likely further legislative hurdles still to be navigated. In the meantime, the UK's Food Standards Agency is open to accepting applications for novel food authorisations and plans to ban all CBD products on the UK market after 31 March 2021 that are not reliant on 'valid' applications.  

Qantas & Ticketmaster back proof of vaccination requirement

UK event ticket seller, Ticketmaster and airline Qantas triggered a major backlash recently as they announced requirements for customers to show proof of vaccination in order for them to attend events and travel. However, since the backlash, Ticketmaster has backtracked in a tweet clarifying it currently has no requirement for proof of vaccination, but does not confirm what it intends to do in the future. Tour operator, Tradewinds, has issued a statement saying, “We feel that bodily autonomy with regard to medical intervention is a personal choice and not something to be forced onto people by businesses”. The statement continues that it, as a company, is pro-choice and emphasises the difference between coercion and free choice. Qantas and Ticketmaster may well be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to companies increasing citizen-pressure to vaccinate, however, they may find themselves on the wrong side of human rights law and open to legal challenge. Not least if a citizen suffers vaccine injury and claims they were coerced into vaccination in order to travel, attend an event or avail themselves of whatever service the company is offering.

Social isolation triggers same feelings as hunger cravings

A new study published in Nature Neuroscience by researchers from MIT has found social isolation triggers cravings for social interactions similar to the food cravings felt when hungry. Participants were socially isolated for 10 hours and then underwent an MRI scan while being showed images of social contact. The participants also undertook a 10 hour fast on a different day and were then shown pictures of food so scans could be compared. Researchers found the same area of the brain that reacts when someone is hungry was triggered by social isolation. The findings further support the importance of social interaction to humans. Although the data for the study was collected in 2018/2019, its findings are particularly relevant now due to the number of people who’ve been extensively isolated from friends and loved ones due to covid. The effects of such isolation alongside the impact on mental and emotional health from the lockdowns and other restrictions are going to be felt for many years to come.