View Dr Andre Menache’s Webinar – What lessons Can Be Learned from the Corona Virus Pandemic?

AIA were honoured to host a most informative webinar presented by Dr Andre Menache on the Corona Virus Pandemic which examines its causes and effects with particular focus on why animal research will not serve us well in finding a swift and effective vaccine for this virus and why the pandemic should force us to look to 21st century alternatives to testing methods.

The webinar was introduced by AIA’s President Dr Richard Ryder.

Dr Andre Menache BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS is AIA’s European Representative and Scientific Advisor and a Patron.  He is a veterinarian who advises extensively on animal welfare matters.  Dr Menache is Scientific Consultant to (and former director of) Antidote Europe, based in France.

He has been President of Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine (UK) and General Manager of The Federation of Animal Protection Societies in Israel.  He is a patron of Quaker Concern for Animals and provides scientific support to several grass roots organisations.


Dr Menache has also written the following articles on this topic:

Corona Virus and Animal Testing

https://animal-interfaith-alliance.com/2020/04/04/corona-virus-and-animal-testing-by-dr-andre-menache/

Which is More Dangerous: Wildlife Markets or Animal Research?

https://animal-interfaith-alliance.com/2020/05/29/which-is-more-dangerous-wildlife-markets-or-animal-research-by-dr-andre-menache/

We are Delighted at Scotland’s Decision to End Mountain Hare Killings

We are delighted that the Animals and Welfare (Penalties, Protections and Powers) (Scotland) Bill has been voted on to become law and includes an end to the mass killing of mountain hares in Scotland.

AIA has been campaigning against the killing of mountain hares in Scotland for many years.

We would like to thank Alison Johnstone MSP who brought an amendment to the Bill to make the mountain hares a protected species and to the other campaign organisations, such as Onekind, who have worked tirelessly on this issue.

The iconic mountain hare is a native species in Scotland but is shot in the tens of thousands each year, including in the Cairngorms National Park, for sport by hunting parties and for management by the grouse shooting industry.

Other issues covered by the Bill include:

  • removing the two main seal shooting licences used by fish farms which will end seal shooting;
  • the use of electric shock collars must now be reviewed by the Scottish Government; and
  • vicarious liability to offences involving traps and snares has been extended (but we would like to see a full ban).

We would like to thank all the MSPs who brought amendments to the Bill to improve animal welfare.

Invitation to Webinar by Dr Andre Menache – ‘What Lessons Can Be Learned from the Corona Virus Pandemic?’

The Animal Interfaith Alliance

Invites you to

WHAT LESSONS CAN BE LEARNED FROM THE CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC?

A Webinar by Dr Andre Menache

Introduced by AIA President Dr Richard D. Ryder

Wednesday 15th July 2020 at 8.30pm

The webinar will be hosted on Zoom and will consist of a half hour presentation followed by an hour’s Q & A.  The presentation will examine the limitations of animal research and the arguments for using alternatives to animal research in the hunt for a vaccine for Covid-19, as well as looking at the causes and effects of the virus. 

Dr Andre Menache

Dr Andre Menache BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS is AIA’s European Representative and Scientific Advisor.  He is a veterinarian who advises extensively on animal welfare matters.  Dr Menache is Scientific Consultant to (and former director of) Antidote Europe, based in France. He has been President of Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine (UK) and General Manager of The Federation of Animal Protection Societies in Israel.  He is a patron of Quaker Concern for Animals and provides scientific support to several grass roots organisations

Here are two recent articles written by Dr Menache on this topic:

Corona Virus and Animal Testing

https://animal-interfaith-alliance.com/2020/04/04/corona-virus-and-animal-testing-by-dr-andre-menache/

Which is More Dangerous: Wildlife Markets or Animal Research?

https://animal-interfaith-alliance.com/2020/05/29/which-is-more-dangerous-wildlife-markets-or-animal-research-by-dr-andre-menache/

A link to the webinar will be advertised a few days before the event.  (If you have never used Zoom before you will be asked to download the Zoom application).

If you wish to attend the webinar, please contact Barbara Gardner at barbgard.aia@gmail.com

Demand an End to the Global Wildlife Trade – Sign the Petition

A coalition of animal welfare organisations, co-ordinated by World Animal Protection (WAP), have launched a Campaign to End the Wildlife Trade.

Please Sign the Petition

Every day, thousands of animals are forced into the multi-billion pound global trade in wildlife – killed for food, harvested for traditional medicine, traded as ‘exotic’ pets or forced into a life of suffering in entertainment.

The UK government has an opportunity and a responsibility to lead the world in bringing an end to the global trade in wildlife. This year, at the G20 summit in November, we want the government to call for a global wildlife trade ban and to introduce a new law to ban the import and export of wild animals and wild animal products in the UK.

Wild animals don’t belong to us, they belong in the wild

Horrific conditions cause unimaginable suffering in the global wildlife trade. This also creates a hotbed of diseases that originate from animals, leading to deadly outbreaks like SARS and now COVID-19.

With the impact and grim reality of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping across the globe, we can no longer ignore the dangers of exploiting wild animals: 

  • 60% of emerging infectious diseases are zoonotic, meaning they originate from animals, with 70% of these thought to originate from wild animals
     
  • The methods used to snatch animals from their natural habitats are extremely distressing for them and can cause injury and even death

As well as needing to end the pain and suffering inflicted on animals, we must stop this trade now to help prevent future global health crises and protect our environment for generations to come. 

Please join us in calling on the government to secure a global wildlife trade ban and end the import and export of wild animals and wild animal products into the UK. 

Church Times Reports on Vegetarian & Vegan Clerics

The Church Times has reported on the progress of six vegetarian and vegan clerics in its issue of 29th May, three of whom are leaders of some of AIA’s member organisations. These include ASWA Secretary Samantha Chandler, ordained in the Diocese of Winchester; recently retired Vicar of Godshill in the Isle of Wight and CVV UK leader, Revd. John Ryder and the Revd. Professor Martin Henig Assistant Priest in the Osney Benefice, Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics and ASWA Vice President. He also sits on the board of the Animal Interfaith Alliance.

It is great to see the Church Times promoting their beliefs and lifestyles. The full article can be read here:

Which is More Dangerous: Wildlife Markets or Animal Research ? by Dr Andre Menache

The race is now on to develop a vaccine to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Developing a new vaccine is not without risk and so it is imperative that researchers use robust scientific methods in order to avoid some of the mistakes of the past. An important step in the right direction is to avoid using animal cells or animal viruses to manufacture human vaccines in the 21st century. A lack of technology is not the obstacle here. Rather, it is out dated manufacturing practices and a political culture that puts short term profits before public safety. This is particularly relevant in an era of personalized medicine: the opportunity to create vaccines that are more effective and with fewer side effects (1).     

By now we are all acutely aware of the risk of transmission of animal viruses in the context of wildlife markets and the consumption of wild animal products. Sadly, countries like China have issued only a temporary ban on such practices. Once the coronavirus pandemic eases up, it could be a return to business as usual in places where wild animal consumption is a tradition. There is, however, another cause for concern, in the form of medical research where animal viruses are involved in the production of human vaccines. To be clear, we are not talking about the use of animal viruses in the context of biological warfare, we are talking about vaccines manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry destined for general use in the human population.

The scientific research community has been taken by surprise by the speed at which the COVID-19 viral pandemic has spread throughout the world. Clinical trials are already underway, with scientists scrambling to find an effective vaccine. Some vaccine trials have received the official go-ahead without waiting for the results of the usual animal tests. Under normal circumstances, vaccine development can take up to 15 to 20 years, from start to finish, and includes giving the vaccine to various animal species to determine safety and efficacy.

With advancements in technology, industry and academia appear to have significantly reduced the timeline for the production of a future vaccine. Besides the questions surrounding the reliability and relevance of animal testing with regard to predicting human outcome, there is the equally important issue about which most people are completely unaware: the use of animal viruses in human vaccines (2). A current example is the use of a genetically modified chimpanzee virus grown in duck cell culture for use in human vaccines. This vaccine has already been administered to healthy human volunteers in the UK and Senegal as part of an early clinical trial (3).

As the saying goes, “history does not repeat itself, man repeats his mistakes”. It is worth taking a brief look at specific examples of the not so distant past to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Some of the early polio vaccine administered to millions of people between 1955 and 1963 was contaminated with the simian virus 40 (SV40). This virus originated in the monkey kidney cell cultures used to produce the vaccine. The SV40 virus is the most potent cancer causing virus known to science and is now thought to be responsible for the proliferation of certain rare human forms of cancer (4).

Vaccines containing animal viruses also share some of the risks associated with gene therapy. The death of 18 year old Jesse Gelsinger in September 1999 following experimental gene therapy was a wake-up call for the scientific research community on the risks of using viruses as a means transporting healthy genes into the cells of patients (5). Gelsinger died as a result of an immune overreaction caused by the virus. In a different clinical trial in 2003, it was reported that some of the children born with inadequate immune systems who received gene therapy (also based on a viral vector) showed some improvement, while others developed leukemia (cancer of the white blood cells) (6). In patients who have responded well to these treatments, the long term health effects are still unknown (7).

The above events highlight some of the major risks associated with using viruses (often of animal origin) as vectors of genes or in vaccines, and the risks of using animal tissues (monkey kidney, in the case of polio) as a means of cultivating the virus for subsequent human use. In the UK in 2000, polio vaccine manufactured using fetal calf serum was withdrawn following a massive public outcry in the wake of the Mad Cow Disease outbreak. Millions of doses of the vaccine had already been administered to infants in the UK when it was revealed that the fetal calf serum used in the vaccine was of UK origin (8). Although the risks were played down by the authorities, it should be noted that Mad Cow Disease is caused by prions, which are even smaller than viruses and were undetectable in blood products at the time.

In short, the COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call to all of society and industry to stop using animal tissues and animal viruses to manufacture vaccines destined for human use. It is also an opportunity to ditch the “animal model”, a concept that belongs to the 19th century. To try to reproduce a human disease, or test a human vaccine, in an animal is a perversion of science, a complete lack of understanding of what constitutes a complex system, such as the immune system. Each animal species is also an example of a complex system and therefore cannot serve as a model for another. Among humans, there are also important differences between individuals, in terms of susceptibility to COVID-19. Rather than experimenting with ferrets, monkeys or mice, it would be far more scientific to invest in high-performance technologies of the 21st century. 

One such example is the “MIMIC” (Modular IMmune In vitro Construct) which is an in vitro model of the human immune system (9). Advanced in vitro technologies (such as MIMIC, ‘organs on a chip’ and others) must by today’s standards, aim for a prediction rate of 85 to 90 % in order to be accepted at the regulatory level. Although animal tests are still required before human clinical trials, they fail spectacularly: 9 out of 10 drugs that appear safe and effective in animal tests subsequently fail in human trials, precisely due to a lack of safety or efficacy, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (10). A testing strategy based on a battery of in vitro tests using human material would be far more relevant than pursuing animal tests. It is time to raise the bar in current biomedical research if we want to preserve our health in the face of emerging diseases of the 21st century. Perhaps the COVID-19 pandemic will help us to question some of our irresponsible scientific practices as well as the obsolete regulations that still impose them.

Dr Andre Menache BSc(Hons) BVSc MRCVS is a veterinarian who advises extensively on animal welfare matters.  He is director of Antidote Europe, based in France, a patron of Quaker Concern for Animals and a patron of and scientific adviser to the Animal Interfaith Alliance.   He has been president of Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine (UK) and general manager of The Federation of Animal Protection Societies in Israel.  He currently provides scientific support to several grass roots organisations. His full article can be read here.

References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831634/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4494222/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6452431/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10472327
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Gelsinger
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14564000
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4274995/
  8. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1371188/Polio-vaccine-withdrawn-after-mad-cow-contamination-fears.html
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19807200
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4594046/

Government Fails to Put the Prevention of Lower Welfare Imports of Animal Products into Law

The Animal Interfaith Alliance is very disappointed that the Government failed to take this opportunity to prevent the import of lower animal welfare products into the UK after Brexit.

Neil Parish MP, Chairman of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee put forward an amendment to the Agriculture Bill, NC2 “International trade agreements: agricultural and food products” that would prevent the import of animal products that had been raised to lower standards than those of the UK and protect food safety. This would have protected animal welfare and UK farmers.

On 13th May 2020, 328 MPs voted against the amendment (of which 326 were Conservative) and 277 voted for the amendment, defeating the amendment by 51 votes.

The Conservative manifesto stated: “In all of our trade negotiations, we will not compromise on our high environmental protection, animal welfare and food standards”. However, they have failed to put this into law in the Agriculture Bill.

With increasing concerns about food safety following the Covid-19 outbreak which started in a wildlife market in Asia, where animal welfare and hygiene standards are extremely poor, this could not have come at a worse time. In addition to the disease concerns there are concerns that products using growth hormones and excessive anti-biotics could reach our shops – products which would be illegal to produce in the UK. This would also put unfair pressure on UK farmers to reduce standards.

We thank the 277 MPs who voted in favour of this amendment but question why those that voted against it would want to jeopardise UK health, UK farmers and UK animal welfare, and why they would not want to honour their manifesto commitment and put this into law.

Help Fund an Animal Free Test that will Detect if you are Infectious with Covid-19

SAVING HUMAN AND ANIMAL LIVES

Animal Free Research UK Launches COVID-19 Research Appeal

Current COVID-19 tests tell us only if the virus is in our bodies, not whether we are still infectious.  But Professor Lorna Harries and her team at the University of Exeter are currently optimising a test that could tell users not only whether they are carrying the active virus but also the degree of infection.

The current test for the COVID-19 virus includes ingredients derived from animals and detects only the presence of viral particles (which can be infectious or non-infectious). 

Funded by Animal Free Research UK, Prof. Harries’s new test will be animal free as all animal-derived materials are replaced by synthetic equivalents.  

By using human tissue samples from COVID-19 infected pateints, Prof. Harries and her team are able to make their research  truly human relevant and detect the exact number of active viral particles in a sample. 

This test has three major benefits. It will: 

– Get healthcare workers back to work faster and safely; 

– help predict how poorly people are likely to become; 

– measure how effective emerging new treatments can be. 

At the moment front line medical staff are ‘flying blind’and have  no option but to risk their lives and the lives of the people they are caring for. 

Trialled on human patients with COVID-19 and with the results compared with current methods of testing, this test can be in use in a matter of weeks.

If you wish to respond to this urgent appeal, supported by Joanna Lumley, Paul O’Grady and other celebrities as well as dedicated researchers, please send a donation either online or make out a cheque to Animal Free Research UK and end it to:

Albert Schweitzer Coronavirus Appeal, Animal Free Research UK, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AX.

If you wish to show support for this appeal and wish to sign it as an individual please kindly email Rev. Feargus O’Connor at ggunirev@aol.com and he shall gladly add your name. 

On Laboratory Animal Day Let’s Switch to 21st Century Technologies

According to AIA’s scientific adviser, Dr Andre Menache, Covid-19 offers us a golden opportunity to get rid of the ‘animal model’, a concept that belongs to the 20th century, and to focus our efforts on the species in question, namely humans. He says that rather than experimenting with ferrets, monkeys or mice, it would be more intelligent – and far more scientific – to invest in high-performance technologies of the 21st century.

Out of ten medical drugs that have successfully passed the required tests on animals, nine will fail in clinical trials involving humans (due to lack of efficacy or to side effects not seen in animals). This represents a 90% failure rate or a 10% prediction rate based on animal tests. We don’t have time to waste on these outdated methods in the search for a vaccine for Covid-19. Regulations need to change to reflect this and adapt to modern alternatives to animal testing.

Dr Andre Menache BSc(Hons) BVSc MRCVS is a veterinarian who advises extensively on animal welfare matters.  He is director of Antidote Europe, based in France, a patron of Quaker Concern for Animals and a patron of and scientific adviser to the Animal Interfaith Alliance.   He has been president of Doctors and Lawyers for Responsible Medicine (UK) and general manager of The Federation of Animal Protection Societies in Israel.  He currently provides scientific support to several grass roots organisations. His full article can be read here.

Celebrating Animals on ‘Earth Day’

As we celebrate this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, the Animal Interfaith Alliance and its member faith-based animal advocacy organisations will be thinking, not only about climate change, but also about the wonderful animals that are so fundamental to our unique planet.

Every day so many of these animals are abused in factory farms, laboratories, in entertainment and in the wild. This is the year, on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, that we started paying the price for our “tyrannical anthropocentrism”, as Pope Francis described it. This is the year that planet Earth started fighting back. This is the year that the abuse of wild animals in horrific wildlife markets caused the global pandemic which is killing humans.

This is the year when we must reflect on our abuse of the animal creation and start becoming the good stewards we were meant to be for the Earth and all its inhabitants. This is the time to end our tyrannical anthropocentrism and to love, cherish and protect all the animals we share Earth with.