ABOUT ISAG

Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG)  

A Better Way Forward: Towards A Zero-COVID Island

Welcome to the ISAGCOVID19.org page. The Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) for COVID-19 are a voluntary and independent expert group from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and abroad, advocating a SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID19) elimination strategy for the island of Ireland. ISAG was formed by scientists across the island of Ireland to achieve this objective, to offer a way forward and hope that our society and economy can function normally. We believe that this strategy should be informed by science, and developed openly with people living on the island through discussion. ISAG's experts feature regularly in the global media discourse on COVID-19 science and via INSIGHT @ISAGCOVID19 a series of publicly informed  town hall discussions. Details of both can be found in our Media Centre and  ISAG Events section. Membership is open and we include public health, economics, data analytics and communications among our expertise. Details of current members can be found in our Meet the Team section.  If you have any queries or would like to join or support the group, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

ISAG EVENTS

WATCH INSIGHT @COVID19

"Looking at COVID-19 through the Numbers: Everything you need to know about the data and how the future depends on targeted COVID-19 responses" 

Streamed Monday 19th October at 3pm

 

A MUST VIEW!

 

"Looking at COVID-19 through the Numbers: Everything you need to know about the data and how the future depends on targeted COVID-19 responses."

 

Full video of ISAG's second town hall meeting, Monday October 19th 2020, with discussions and insight into the recent rise in cases and how the data inform Ireland's strategic responses. Featuring ISAG experts Prof Helen Dolk, Dr Paul Dempsey and Dr Philipp Hoevel, we were delighted with the interest and participation. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

               

WHO WE ARE

Lead by Professor Anthony Staines, Dublin City University, we are a voluntary and independent expert group from Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and abroad, advocating a SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID19) elimination strategy for the island of Ireland. The prospect of further illness, deaths and long-term consequences from COVID-19 in the coming months, and possibly years, is unacceptable. We therefore, urge the Irish and Northern Irish governments to adopt a COVID-19 strategy with the overarching objective of eliminating the virus from Ireland. We believe that this strategy should be informed by science, and developed openly with people living on the island through discussion. Achieving elimination of community transmission would allow all social distancing measures to be lifted, health services to remove visiting and service restrictions, schools to be fully open, arts and cultural events to function, the hospitality and entertainment industries to re-open fully, revitalisation of the economy and a sense of much needed normality for the population. It would allow the elderly and vulnerable to fully participate in our society. ISAG membership is open and we include public health, economics, data analytics and communications among our expertise. Based on our expert opinion and that of published scientific work, we believe that the strategy we propose is achievable. Entitled, 'A Better Way Forward: Towards a Zero-COVID Island,' the values and key elements can be read in Our Strategy section and by clicking the image below.

ISAG Strategy

The prospect of further illness, deaths and long-term consequences from COVID-19 in the coming months, and possibly years, is unacceptable. We therefore, urge the Irish and Northern Irish governments to adopt a COVID-19 strategy with the overarching objective of eliminating the virus from Ireland. We believe that this strategy should be informed by science, and developed openly with people living on the island through discussion.

Prof Anthony Staines, Professor of Health Systems, ISAG Founder 

WHAT WE DO

 
 
 

WHAT IS THE INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC ADVOCACY GROUP (ISAG) FOR COVID-19?

We are a cross disciplinary expert group, lead by Anthony Staines, Professor of Public Health Systems, Dublin City University who are working together to provide independent scientific advice to the government and public on how to minimise deaths and infections and reopen our economy and society safety through an elimination plan to support Ireland's and Northern Ireland's recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. The groups combined expertise includes public health, science, communications and data analytics disciplines that are essential in response management of public health emergencies. Visit our Meet the Team section to access information on individual group members.

IS ISAG GOVERNMENT AFFILIATED?

No. ISAG is independent of government. All the experts involved are doing this as unpaid voluntary work. They all commit hours of their time every week to discuss the COVID-19 science that underpins the Irish and Northern Irish government’s response strategies. We have a commitment to transparency of communications and share our work openly with both the government and public. We believe openness and transparency leads to better understanding and better decision making. We also believe it the responsibility of scientists and those with specialist knowledge to engage with the public and policy makers, in order to ensure that science benefits all of society.

WHAT ARE ISAG'S ACTIVITIES?

Since the first meeting in July of this year, ISAG has produced reports that can be accessed in our Reports Section answered questions relating to COVID-19 science, from the public,  journalists and broadcasters and presented our elimination strategy for the Island of Ireland to the Irish government via the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response debate on Thursday, 13 August 2020 ( full debate transcript here) and Wednesday, 23 September 2020. Members of the group assist with media activities and social media. For up to date media coverage visit our Media Centre. The group are active on the following social media platforms FacebookTwitter and YouTube. The ISAG Events Section provides details of INSIGHT @ISAGCOVID19 a series of publicly informed town hall discussions addressing COVID19 science and responses.

  

ISAG WEBINAR ARCHIVE

WATCH INSIGHT @COVID19

"Ireland's Response to COVID19: Herd Immunity, Elimination or Something in Between?" 

Full video of ISAG's first town hall meeting, Monday October 5th 2020, with discussions and insight into Ireland's COVID-19 responses and the Government announcement that they would be rejecting NPHET'S advice on moving to level 5.  Featuring ISAG experts Prof Aoife McLysaght, Prof Gerry Killeen and Prof Sam McConkey, we were delighted with the interest and participation. 

 

OUR STRATEGY KEY VALUES AND ELEMENTS 

A BETTER WAY FORWARD: TOWARDS A ZERO-COVID ISLAND

ISAG Strategy

Our Strategy Brochure 

Our Strategy Brochure 

 

1. The prospect of further illness, deaths and long term consequences from COVID-19 in the coming months, and  possibly years, is unacceptable.

2. Achieving elimination of community transmission would allow all social distancing measures to be lifted, health services to remove visiting and service restrictions, schools to be fully open, arts and cultural events to function, the hospitality and entertainment industries to re-open fully, revitalisation of the economy and a sense of much needed normality for the population. It would allow the elderly and vulnerable to fully participate in our society.

3. The economic cost of the pandemic is driven primarily by the persisting prevalence of the virus rather than by the restrictions needed to eliminate it. Elimination as soon as possible is therefore crucial for the health of the Irish economy, particularly those sectors most hard-hit.

4. Only participatory strategic planning for COVID-19 elimination over the next 12 months will realise our vision – to fully re-open our domestic economy.

5. Our objective is to return to, improve upon, and sustain, where we were in summer 2020.

6. Zoning (into counties or other areas) will facilitate local populations to reduce incidence of the virus, whether independently of each other, or together.

7. Testing is crucial to the close monitoring of infections along with a strong and effective find/test/trace/isolate/support infrastructure.

8. Working from home where possible is an important aspect of keeping the working population as apart from each other as possible, thus reducing the potential spread of the virus.

9. Entry controls at ports and airports are required alongside the local elements outlined above.

10. A co-operative approach between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, along with sharing of information, experience and strategic planning with other countries who have adopted an elimination strategy, will help to shorten the time to achieve our goal.

Businessman on blurred background holdin

FAQ'S 

This section highlights common and reasonable objections that are often made when a Zero COVID strategy is suggested

 

ALL THE THINGS YOU DESCRIBE ARE IMPERFECT

No single measure is perfect, but major epidemics are regularly dealt with by combining many imperfect tools – we don’t need perfect, just good enough.

WE CAN’T CLOSE THE BORDERS

Agreed, but we can test, isolate, and follow up at our ports and airports. Northern Ireland may well decide to test travellers from outside the CTA, and that’s fine.

THE ECONOMIC DAMAGE OF THIS APPROACH IS UNAFFORDABLE

To that we make two responses:
a. The economic damage of rising and falling rates of COVID19 is now quite clear. Many businesses that squeaked through to June, when we last had low rates of COVID19 are not going to survive the second wave, never mind the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th waves. Living with the virus has real, evident and unending costs.
b. The economic evidence, such as it is, says that the economic damage in different jurisdictions is mostly related to the level of circulating virus, rather than the response to that from the government.

THERE’LL BE MORE CASES

The virus will come back. This is almost certainly true, but the key is that it will come back in a controlled way. For  example, New Zealand and China have both been hard hit by well-documented new outbreaks of COVID19. However, these have been controlled with local actions, other parts of the country were not seriously affected, and both countries are committed to learning how to reduce the frequency of new outbreaks in the future.

HANDLING FUTURE OUBREAKS

Aggressive and active finding, testing, tracing, and isolation is key to this. When a country or region has it’s Green zone status compromised by new cases, it does not need to restart the entire process. Temporary restrictions may be required for only a few weeks to bring a local outbreak under control.

PEOPLE ARE FED UP, AND WON’T DO THIS

People did accept much worse – the 2km travel limit, because they could see the benefits. People are worried now, because they see no end coming and the rising daily cases. If we give them a destination, Zero COVID, and give them responsibility, we are confident that the Irish people will support this.

 

MEET THE TEAM

AnthonyStainesNewPhotoCrop.jpg

PROF ANTHONY STAINES

Professor of Health Systems, School of Nursing, Psychotherapy & Community Health, Dublin City University

Ivan-Perry-1 (2).jpg

PROF IVAN

PERRY

Dean of Public Health, School of Public Health, University College Cork

PROF GERRY KILLEEN

AXA Research Chair in Applied Pathogen Ecology, School of Biological,
Earth & Environmental Sciences and Environmental Research Institute, University College
Cork

gerry.jpg

PROF PATRICIA KEARNEY

Professor of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University College Cork

PK.jpg
Tomas-Ryan_17-19.jpg

DR

 TOMAS RYAN

Associate Professor, School of Biochemistry and Immunology, Trinity College Dublin

SAM%20MCCONKEY_edited.jpg

PROF 

SAM MCCONKEY

President of the Infectious Disease Society of Ireland and Associate Professor of International Health and Tropical Medicine, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

PROF

HELEN DOLK

Professor of Epidemiology & Health Services Research, University of Ulster 

Helen-Dolk-web.jpg

DR

PHILIPP HOEVEL

Lecturer in Mathematics, University College Cork

Philip.jpg
UCD%205_edited.jpg

 DR 

JULIEN MERCILLE

 

Associate Professor, School of Geography, University College Dublin

Aoife_edited.jpg

PROF

AOIFE MCLYSAGHT 

Professor in the Molecular Evolution Laboratory of the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, University of Dublin in Ireland

DR

SHANE BERGIN

 Assistant Professor of Science Education,  School of Education, UCD

Shane Bergin Profile Pic.jpg

DR

PAUL DEMPSEY

 Mathematical Scientist,  

Population Health & Risk Data Analyst  

EU%20Datathon%20Photo%20-%2030PD%20(1)_e

MR

DERMOT DORGAN

.

 Investment Risk Management and Quantitative Analysis

P6.jpg
KM-headshot-2018 (1).png

DR

KEVIN MITCHELL

Associate Professor in Developmental Neurobiology, Genetics
The Senior Lecturer, Trinity Inst. of Neurosciences (TCIN)

INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS 

PROF

GABRIEL SCALLY

Visiting Professor of Public Health, University of Bristol, President of  Epidemiology and Public Health, The Royal Society of Medicine and  member of the UK's Independent SAGE.

Bar-Yam_2101_5x7HighRescrop.jpg

PROF 

YANEER BAR-YAM

President, New England Complex Systems Institute, USA

DR

AMANDA KARSLIG

Senior Research Fellow, Department of Public Health, University of Otago Wellington, New Zealand

Amanda Kvalsvig_bio photo.jpg

PROF

MICHAEL BAKER

Co-Director, He Kainga Oranga/Housing and Health Research Programme; Director, Health Environment Infection Research Unit, and Co-Director, Public Health Summer School, Department of Public Health, University of Otago Wellington, New Zealand

Michael%20Baker%20_edited.jpg

 REPORTS 

ISAG have published a number of reports regarding COVID-19 responses that are based on the the most up to date research and our group members expertise in the disciplines that underpin public health emergency responses. 

 
Crowd with Masks

 RESEARCH

 

MEDIA CENTRE

In our Media Centre, you’ll find articles and the latest updates on the work of the ISAG Group. The attention of these articles draw is one of the best resources we have for getting information out there about our strategy to eliminate COVID-19 from the island of Ireland. 

'We face Christmas lockdown unless we up restrictions' - expert

October 08, 2020

TOO LITTLE TOO LATE: Coronavirus- Ireland ‘three months too late’ to stop virus spread as Level 4 and 5 ‘inevitable’, top prof reveals

October 07, 2020

Dr Gabriel Scally rejects Leo Varadkar’s dismissal of all-island Covid strategy

October 07, 2020

Professor Sam McConkey: Prepare for Levels 4 and 5, yesterday just delayed the inevitable.

October 06, 2020

Newspapers folded and stacked.jpg
 
 

PARTNERSHIPS- ENDCORONAVIRUS.ORG

We are part of a multidiscipline, voluntary and international approach to eliminating COVID-19 and partner with scientists from institutions across the globe.

EndCoronavirus (ECV) is an international volunteer coalition of over 4,000 scientists from Harvard, UCLA, MIT and other leading institutes, community organisers, citizens, business owners and individuals. Operating since February 29, 2020, starting at their parent organization, the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) develop effective, community-based solutions to end COVID-19. ECV offers guidelines for policymakers, businesses and individuals and advocacy, guidance and recommendations.

PARTNERSHIPS - INDEPENDENTSAGE.ORG

It is vital to eliminate COVID-19 we form partnerships and collaborate with our neighbouring experts in the UK. Independent SAGE is a group of scientists who are working together to provide independent scientific advice to the UK government and public on how to minimise deaths and infections and support Britain’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

 
 

INFORMATION AND ADVICE ON COVID-19

All the current information and advice on COVID-19 from HSE.ie to help keep you safe and well including :

  • Symptoms 

  • How to protect yourself and others

  • Testing and contact tracing 

  • People at higher risk 

  • Managing coronavirus at home 

  • Staying well during coronavirus

  • Parents and carers 

  • Services 

  • Download the contact tracing app 

 
Contact%2520Methods_edited_edited.jpg

CONTACT ISAGCOVID19.ORG

Email:

Phone:

(003531) 086 606 9713

  • ISAG COVID-19
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
 
  • ISAG COVID-19
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

©2020 by ZeroCOVIDIsland.org. Proudly created with Wix.com