Independent Scientific Advocacy Group
A Better Way Forward: Toward Elimination of Covid-19
The Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (I.S.A.G.) is a multidisciplinary group of scientists, academics, and researchers who have come together to advocate for a SARS-CoV-2 elimination strategy for the island of Ireland.
I.S.A.G. has published several papers outlining its strategy and recommendations, and you can find them in "Key Reports from the Group" below.
Founded by Anthony Staines, Gerry Killeen, and Tomás Ryan in June 2020, I.S.A.G. is independent of government. All of our members are volunteers and they freely commit their time every week to discuss the COVID-19 science that underpins the Irish and Northern Irish government’s response strategies.
If you have any queries or would like to support the group, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Press & Media
Press Release: Webinar Announcement for 12pm on Wednesday, Feb 24th 2021 - "Public health and COVID-19, a global and local perspective" The purpose of this ISAG webinar is to review public health responses to COVID-19 in Ireland and across Europe. What did we do right, what did we miss and what do we need to mount an effective public health response. Chaired by Anthony Staines, ISAG member. Speakers Martin McKee (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) and Marie Casey (Public Health Specialist, Ireland). This webinar will also cover the current situation in Ireland with particular reference to children, and review some of the possible impacts of of variants, such as P1 (first isolated in Brazil) on COVID-19 in Ireland.
Press Release: Webinar Announcement for 12pm on Wednesday, Feb 17th 2021 - "Where are SARS-CoV-2 infections originating, and how can we control them?" Ireland need a new strategy aimed at “living without COVID” in the community. We must aggressively suppress SARS-CoV-2 cases to a target of zero, in order to restore relatively normal social and economic. Chaired by Tomás Ryan, our panel of Sam Scarpino, Aoife McLysaght, and Tony O’Brien will present an evidence-based discussion of what we know about the origin of SARS-CoV-2 infections in Ireland, and how we can develop a strategy to take control.
The Government’s ‘National Framework for Living with Covid-19’ strategy has failed. Women can’t face a fourth wave in March. We will host a webinar that will present evidence of the real impact of rolling lockdowns with no end in sight, government inaction and high death rates on women in Ireland today. Chaired by Nessa Cronin, our panel of Gabrielle Colleran, Cliona Ni Cheallaigh, Sharon Lambert, Kelly Tallant and Shauneen Brown.
Press Release: Webinar Announcement for 12pm Feb 3 2021 - The purpose of this I.S.A.G. public webinar is to discuss practical approaches for managing the challenges of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission within the island of Ireland & from a European perspective. Chaired by Frances Fitzgerald MEP. Recording (YouTube)
Press Release: Webinar Announcement for 12pm Jan 27 2021 - The purpose of this webinar is to discuss practical approaches for managing the challenges of SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission on the Ireland of Ireland. Chaired by Eamon Dunphy (The Stand Podcast). Recording (YouTube)
Press Release: Webinar Announcement for 12pm Jan 20 2021 - to discuss the central issue of international travel quarantine and its role in preventing a 4th wave of COVID-19 in Ireland. Recording (YouTube)
Press Release: Webinar Announcement for 11am Dec 31 2020 - We ask the government to take decisive action and to commit to a strategic solution incorporating a range of appropriate and proven measures to aggressively suppress SARS-CoV-2 in Ireland in January and February of 2021. Recording (YouTube)
Press Release: Press Conference Announcement for 10am Dec 22 2020 - We are calling on the Irish government to take decisive action and commit to a full national lockdown from 26th December 2020. Recording (YouTube)
Eliminating community transmission of SARS-COV-2 would remove the uncertainty in our lives, giving us clarity, and a much needed sense of normality in our lives.
Our pubs and restaurants can function as normal, while arts and cultural events can resume.
We can go to matches, and celebrate the wins.
The elderly and vulnerable can fully participate in society again. Further insolvencies will be prevented, and government supports gradually roll off as the crisis finally ends.
1. Distribute vaccines
We must ensure that their distribution and uptake is as efficient as possible. But the vaccine roll out won’t be enough on its own—we need other policies for the next few months—at least until the summer and probably into late 2021.
2. One lockdown to end them all.
Everybody hates lockdowns, but when we’re faced with so many cases as currently, they’re the only viable option—our testing and tracing capacity is nowhere near enough to deal with so many cases and we must restrict people’s interactions as much as possible to get us down to very low number of cases.
3. Financial supports.
During the lockdown weeks, people and businesses forced to close must be supported. Same for individuals who must isolate themselves for a few days due to Covid.
4. County by county approach.
Counties that reduce their case numbers would be rewarded. Did you know that in early December, Galway was only days away from reaching zero community cases? That would be fantastic, and counties/towns that can achieve that should reap the benefits immediately. In other words, if say, Galway reaches low/zero community cases, it would be allowed to reopen its economy.
5. Quarantine incoming travellers.
There’s no point shutting down chunks of the economy to reduce cases if we allow anybody to come in the country freely and reinfecting us. That’s what happened this summer after we reached some of the lowest case numbers in Europe—we let travellers come to Ireland and that became an important factor in eventually pushing infections to the sky-high levels we now face. Incoming travellers should be brought to hotels for 14 days in quarantine, where they would be tested.
6. Manage internal borders, including the border with Northern Ireland.
Locking down and quarantining international travellers is essential, but we must also restrict movements on the island. If a county reaches low case numbers, we don’t want it to be infected from outside—so we curb travel into that county. Conversely, if a county is highly infected, we don’t want infections to spill over into other counties, so must restrict travel out of the infected county.
7. Invest in public health—test, trace, isolate.
After a few weeks of lockdown, cases will be down to manageable levels. That’s when our testing and tracing infrastructure will be key to keeping it that way. But the problem is that Ireland has under-invested in its public health infrastructure, including staff. You want an investment with a big bang for the buck? This is it.
8. Ventilation, masks, washing of hands.
Last, as we’ve heard a million times by now, let’s keep wearing our masks, ventilate our rooms and buildings, and wash our hands.
Key Reports from the Group
A Path to Normality: I.S.A.G.'s Strategy to Rid Ireland of COVID-19
We have been living with Covid-19 in Ireland since early 2020. All members of society, especially the business community and health care workers, have made enormous sacrifices - medically, financially, educationally, and socially. Ireland’s current approach leaves us vulnerable to a series of further waves of infections in 2021, but practical solutions are now evident. Many governments across the world have taken decisive action to stamp out the virus. In this paper we build on those experiences and outline key actions that can be taken to adapt those strategies to Ireland.
COVID-19 Elimination in Northern Ireland; A Compassionate, Effective, and Decisive Approach
In this report, we outline our strategy for Northern Ireland. The Independent Scientific Advocacy Group urges the government of Northern Ireland to adopt a COVID-19 elimination strategy in order to reopen and keep open the economy and society. An elimination strategy is an aggressive virus suppression strategy, as used in Australia.
A Green Zone Strategy For Ireland
A Green Zone strategy is one that selectively imposes restrictions within a country, e.g. at county level. This is the optimal strategy to rapidly reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and accelerate the return to normal social, health, education, and business activity—as each county, province or state becomes clear—without disease and loss of life. This paper outlines a framework through which Ireland could eliminate SARS-COV-2 and forms the basis of the I.S.A.G.’s elimination strategy.
Who are We?
ISAG was founded in July 2020 by Anthony Staines, Gerry Killeen, and Tomás Ryan.
Today, I.S.A.G.’s membership has grown to include experts from the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, and overseas, with a diverse set of skills and perspectives.
Members with expertise in public health, epidemiology, outbreak management, mathematics, geography, and Irish history and culture, all united behind a better vision for Ireland in 2021.