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Situation Update, 12 May, 2021
 

  • Situation stable in Northern Ireland
     

  • In ROI, still some cases in Healthcare Workers, non-Healthcare Workers more stable than recent updates
     

  • Multiple recent days of zero cases in Republic of Ireland 85+ age

    group
     

  • Recent increase in daily cases amongst children and young people

    has flattened in ROI, at a relatively high level
     

  • ROI age group 0-34 over half of cases currently
     

  • Record week of vaccination in ROI
     

  • Increased focus on airborne transmission in updated US CDC and

    WHO guidelines in past week
     

  • Daily case and death numbers in EU declining after recent rise

Latest News and Perspectives

ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference:

Social Inclusion: The Response to COVID-19 and Vulnerable Groups

Dr. Margaret Fitzgerald・Dr. Clare Kelly

 

May 5, 2021 | Dr Margaret Fitzgerald will discuss how HSE Social inclusion aims to reduce inequalities in health and improve access to mainstream and targeted health services for vulnerable and excluded groups in Ireland. Prof. Clare Kelly will talk about how biases have played a part in the pandemic.

Press Release 

ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference:

Long Covid: The long term impact of COVID on people's lives and livelihoods

Clare Twomey・Dr. Alex Kunzmann

Apr 28, 2021 | “We need to not only look at recoveries and deaths, but we need to protect individuals working and living in our society from developing Long Covid,” advised Dr Andrew Kunzmann, an epidemiologist at Queen’s University Belfast. Speaking at a public meeting on Wednesday along with doctors, scientists and researchers from the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) he expressed concern for those who develop what its sufferers have named ‘Long Covid’

Press Release    YouTube Recording

ISAG Press Conference: Where do we go from here?

Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding・Dr. Thomas Mellan・Prof. Gabriel Scally

Apr 21, 2021 |  What are the current patterns of COVID-19 variant growth in other countries? What do we know about their epidemiology, and the potential impact on the Irish and global population? How do these variants affect the roll-out of first generation vaccines? And, how do they affect our ability to safely exit the long lockdowns we have in place in an attempt to suppress, or live with the virus, rather than to eliminate it? Internationally renowned science communicator, Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding and Epidemiological Modeler, Dr. Thomas Mellan will discuss these and other questions.

Press Release      YouTube Recording

Are we Surrendering to a Fourth Wave?

Prof. Anthony Staines・Prof Gabriel Scally・Prof. Aoife McLysaght

Apr 6, 2021 |  ISAG Press Conference Wednesday 7 April 2021 at 12.00pm via Zoom and Social Media platforms. There is a high risk that Ireland is now entering its fourth wave of COVID-19, with a further risk of a fifth wave amplified by new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Despite months in a Level 5 Living With Covid lockdown, we are not prepared for what may come, nor has this lockdown been effective enough to lead to a safe exit.

Press Release      YouTube Recording

Latest Evidence Summary - Vaccines and Reopening

Andrew Kunzmann, Queen's University BelfastGerry Killeen, UCC

 

Apr 1, 2021 |  A brief summary of peer-reviewed international evidence and official statistics on the role of vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 on reopening. Vaccines have been shown to reduce the incidence of severe COVID-19 disease and also mild infections, which offers the hope of using vaccinations to save lives and eliminate COVID-19. 

ISAG Summary Paper  

 

COVID-19 Elimination in Europe and its Implications for Ireland

Cecile Philippe, France ・Antoine Flahault, Switzerland・Fidelia Cascini, Italy・Henrique Barros, Portugal

 

Mar 30, 2021 |  In this webinar, we invite representatives of four European countries to give a brief overview of the prospects for COVID-19 elimination in their country, and Europe in general, reflecting among other topics on the challenges faced and what could be done at a European level to facilitate COVID-19 elimination.

Press Release   YouTube Recording

 

Latest Evidence Summary - Schools and Transmission

Gerry Killeen, UCC

 

Mar 29, 2021 |  A brief summary of authoritative high-level peer-reviewed international evidence quantifying the impact of school closures and re-openings on individual-level risks and community-level transmission rates of SARS-CoV-2

ISAG Summary Paper  

Covid-19 Economics – An International Perspective 

James Merrick・Francesco Grigoli, IMF ・Anna Scherbina, Brandeis University

 

Mar 24, 2021 |  Over a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, we will discuss the international economic lessons that have been learned, and the analysis of costs and benefits of public health measures to control Covid-19. Hosted by James Merrick, we will begin with a situation update, followed by presentations from our two invited speakers, Francesco Grigoli, Economist with the International Monetary Fund, and Anna Scherbina, Professor at Brandeis University.

Press Release   YouTube Recording

 

The Role of Vaccines and Covid Immunity in a Pandemic Response

Gerry Killeen, UCC

 

Mar 20, 2021 |  As we all continue to struggle, now a full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, highly efficacious new vaccines offer us hope. However, supply and delivery of these life-saving vaccines will take time, leaving uncertainty about how long it will take before we can safely reclaim our lives. Prof Gerry Killeen from University College Cork chaired a public information session hosted by the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) last week, in which Irish experts discussed the roles that vaccines are likely to play in our pandemic response over the short, medium and long term.

Press Release   Twitter Broadcast    Periscope

 

Follow link for previous webinars and press releases >

Mandatory Hotel Quarantine - How to Do it Right

ISAG Press Conference: Mandatory Hotel Quarantine - How to Do it Right

Weds April 14th, 2021 at 12pm. Guest Speaker Dr. Niall Conroy

 

Independent Scientific Advocacy Group 

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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.

Reopening Schools Safely

Webinar, March 3rd:

 
 
 
 

Elimination Plan

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.

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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.

International Experts from New Zealand, the US and the UK

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