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Archived Press Releases, Documents and Links


Letter to the Irish Times: 'Aggressive suppression and zero tolerance of Covid are crucial'
Jan 17, 2022 |  "Vaccines and drugs, even new ones, may not be always able to match the speed of change in Covid-19, or other novel pathogenic viruses.

We need plans for this, and the capability, and resources to deliver them."

#letter #vaccinesplus #strategy

Link (Irish Times)

Tomás Ryan speaks to Éamon Dunphy on The Stand Podcast  
Jan 5, 2022 |  'Why are Children Returning to Unsafe Classrooms?' As children return to school this week Tomás Ryan talks to Eamon about the sharp rise in Covid-19 cases over the holiday period. Tomás Ryan is Associate Professor at the School of Immunology and Biochemistry at TCD.
#schools #reopening #omicron #podcast
Link (Spotify)
Christmas 2021 and COVID-19
Dec 16, 2021 |  Last Christmas, we left it too late to do anything meaningful to save the country from what became 5 months of lockdown.This year we know how to do better. We must take action now to protect ourselves, our families, and our health service from Delta and the new Omicron variant of COVID-19.
#christmas #government #omicron #vaccinesplus #strategy
Web statement
Vaccines-plus - A Medium-Term Strategy for the Management of Covid-19 in Ireland
Nov 18, 2021 | It is possible to reduce infections and deaths from Covid, by employing the full range of tried and tested approaches to managing infectious diseases. It is the responsibility of the Government, not the public, to put in place the measures needed for this.
#government #omicron #vaccinesplus #strategy 
Web statement
Immediate responses to the current COVID-19 situation
Oct 18, 2021 |  The government meets tomorrow, to reconsider plans for a full opening up of Ireland on Friday October 22nd. COVID case numbers are high and rising and, as expected, more people are being admitted to hospitals and intensive care. So far, the government’s policy has been lurching in and out of lengthy lockdowns, despite advice from the World Health Organization that these are not an effective long term control measure.
Press Release 
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: 'Ireland on the move: 'Are we doing enough to stay COVID-safe indoors?
Sep 24, 2021 |  Prof. Aoife McLysaght of TCD chairs a discussion on the risks that still apply to being indoors, particularly in schools and workplaces - despite Ireland's excellent take-up of vaccines - with guest speaker Asst. Prof. Orla Hegarty of UCD, and Prof. Anthony Staines of DCU.
YouTube Recording
[EXTERNAL] Opinion - Aoife McLysaght in the Irish Times: 'We can live with the virus? This is dangerous wishful thinking'.
Aug 28, 2021 |  "Never before have our children been congregated in school with such high levels of Covid in the community"
Link (Irish Times) 
[EXTERNAL] Associate Prof. Tomás Ryan discusses schools with Eamon Dunphy on The Stand podcast
Aug 25, 2021 | "With Masks and Good Ventilation School Reopening is Welcome, Done Badly It's Dangerous"
Link (Spotify)
Letter to Minister for Education, Norma Foley TD from Anthony Staines on behalf of ISAG
Aug 21, 2021 |  "I note the guidelines for reopening schools from your Department. These appear to be based on old, and now outdated, public health advice. In my judgement, there is a sizable risk of major outbreaks of COVID-19 associated with school reopening"
Read the letter
Back to School 2021 – What we need to do to protect children. Draft Discussion Paper
Aug 18, 2021 | The largest proportion of the unvaccinated Irish population is due to gather indoors in school and further education buildings in a matter of weeks. The Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) is concerned that everything possible is not being done to protect these children and young people and those who care for them.
#schools #government #strategy #mitigation #testing #vaccination #ventilation #air #distancing #masks
Web statement    Public Meeting Discussion (twitter)
From Zero to 300,000 cases - how did we do and what have we learned?
Aug 4, 2021 |  Ireland's COVID19 response has included an unprecedentedly long lockdown, with restrictions on work and leisure, as well as a successful vaccine program. We have paid a high price in terms of jobs and businesses, so far. Was it worth it? We've done better than some countries, but a lot worse than others, on measures of deaths, cases, and long COVID.
Web summary and Video link
[EXTERNAL] 'Tomás Ryan: Children are still at the starting line in the race against Delta variant'- Sunday Business Post
Aug 1, 2021 |  Vaccination of our teenage population alone will take some months, so in the meantime we must do everything to protect our young people from the effects of Covid-19
Link (Sunday Business Post)
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: 'We must not sacrifice our children & youth to Covid-19'
Jul 28, 2021 | The government has chosen to open up hospitality and travel as cases are going up dramatically, setting the stage for even larger increases in daily case numbers. At this rate, will we be able to open schools and universities safely in September? Young people may be less likely to die from Covid-19, but "Long Covid" can have debilitating effects in the long-term that could leave us with multiple, population-wide health problems for the next few decades.
Periscope Recording  
Letter to Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD on behalf of ISAG
Jul 21, 2021 | "We write to you as a group of concerned citizens, doctors, and scientists from diverse backgrounds but with a good understanding of infectious disease in human populations. As you know COVID19 cases are rising sharply, driven by the new Delta variant, and by changes in behaviour, changes which are likely to strengthen over the next few weeks."
Read the letter
[EXTERNAL] Comment - 'Why the UK’s new Covid-19 strategy is uniquely dangerous' by Gabriel Scally - The New Statesman
Jul 19, 2021 | "The (UK) government’s policy of standing back and letting the virus reproduce freely is an invitation to disaster." 
Link (New Statesman)
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: Letting it rip, Irish style
Jul 19, 2021 | As the UK moves to 'Freedom Day', and case numbers, hospitalisations, and deaths rise, what are the implications for the island of Ireland?
In both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, case numbers are rising, with the North a little ahead. Hospitality is due to open up, at least temporarily, and the numbers travelling abroad are increasing. Rates are beginning to rise in older people in Northern Ireland, but full data for the Republic are still not available.
Press Release    Periscope Recording     Letter to Minister of Health (Ireland)     YouTube Recording
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: Have we had enough fairy-tale epidemiology and wishful thinking? How should Ireland respond to the current Delta wave?
Jul 14, 2021 | Once again, we are at a critical juncture in our response to the Covid-19 pandemic. There is a global surge of infection linked to the delta variant and the UK, our nearest neighbour, has decided to lift all pandemic related restrictions on personal behaviour, social mixing and economic activity from July 19th. A public meeting led by Prof Gabriel Scally, University of Bristol was held on Wednesday 14/7 to discuss the issues, and our options.
Press Release   Periscope Recording     YouTube Recording
[EXTERNAL] Ireland is at risk of a Covid surge after the UK’s radical and reckless move - Tomas Ryan in the Independent
Jul 11, 2021 | "Ireland is in a precarious position and our neighbours are not making it easy. Vaccines are weakening the link between infection and hospitalisation, but only 40pc of the population is fully vaccinated and about 40pc of people (including children) are not vaccinated at all."
Link (Irish Independent)
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: Choosing our future relationship with COVID-19: Elimination or sustained endemic transmission?
Jun 30, 2021 | Ireland is a wealthy country, with a reasonable health service; many countries are far less equipped. We have choices. We have the choice to eliminate COVID19, allowing our economy and society to recover while also greatly reducing the risk of nasty surprises from new variants.
Press Release    YouTube Recording
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: Travel, Hospitality, Vaccination and COVID-19
Jun 23, 2021 | As the summer comes, and vaccination coverage rises, what’s the prudent approach to essential and non-essential travel? Many would like to travel, outside Ireland, and have a holiday abroad. Others would like to travel to Ireland, and holiday here, or meet family here. Can we come up with sensible advice to reduce risks to travellers and to our own country?
Press Release    YouTube Recording
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: How Vaccines+ can be the Way to Get Out and Stay Out of Lockdowns
Jun 16, 2021 | As the UK looks at delaying the lifting of coronavirus restrictions, Prof. Aoife McLysaght will discuss this with Dr. Gabriel Scally this Wednesday, along with the best way for Ireland to save this outdoor summer, we have just begun to enjoy.
Press Release    YouTube Recording
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: Vaccination and B.1.617.2: Where is Ireland going in the coming weeks and months? Learning from England.
June 2, 2021 | Prof. Chistina Pagel (Independent SAGE) and the ISAG Panel answer questions about what the rapid and growing spread of the Delta variant in England means for Ireland and for our plans to relax restrictions on indoor hospitality and international travel.
Press Release    YouTube Recording
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: What does the new COVID variant first identified in India, mean for Ireland?
May 26, 2021 | As we see new variants of COVID19 spreading across the world, we remember the dire impact in January of the B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in Kent. There is growing concern that the variant recently discovered in India (B.1.617.2) and rapidly becoming the dominant strain in the UK, will spread here, causing a rapid fourth wave among the unvaccinated and the reimposition of even stricter restrictions.
Press Release    YouTube Recording
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: A Global Pandemic Calls for Global Solutions
May 20, 2021 | Every crisis presents solutions and with those solutions come opportunities to do better than before. As much of the world has learned the hard way, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 disease does not respect nation state borders, and nor can our attempts to minimise its destruction whether by elimination or aggressive suppression with vaccine strategies. 
Press Release    YouTube Recording
ISAG Public Meeting and Press Conference: Public health action and COVID-19 - what does it mean, and where can it take us?
Dr. Douglas Hamilton・Prof. Anthony Staines​
May 12, 2021 | There’s been much talk about the role of public health specialists in this pandemic, and particularly of contact tracing. What does this mean, and how is it done in Ireland and internationally? What is the role of contact tracing in pandemic control, especially as we move into the vaccine roll-out?
Experienced public health specialists Douglas Hamilton and Anthony Staines will review the Irish performance on Track Trace Isolate, and compare it with countries where COVID19 has been better controlled.
Press Release    YouTube Recording
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    YouTube Recording
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

ISAG Discussion Paper: Should NI follow England in offering mass testing for all?

April 2021 |  England has announced that it will supply two rapid antigen tests (lateral flow tests) per person per week to pick up cases in people who have the virus but are asymptomatic. If successful, this might prevent some onward transmission.

ISAG Discussion Paper  


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

ISAG Discussion Paper on the Reopening of Schools

Mar 2, 2021 |  On March 1st 2021, a second phase of school reopening saw children with special educational needs, the four youngest primary school-going years, and Leaving Cert students return to schools.

ISAG Discussion Paper  

ISAG Border Plan: Discussion Paper to Outline Strategy for Border Area Management and Green Zones

Mar 23, 2021 |  Perhaps the most frequent objection to a Zero Covid strategy in the Republic of Ireland is: “but what about the border with Northern Ireland?”. This position paper outlines a strategy to manage border areas in order to bring Covid cases down, and keep them down in the Republic.

ISAG Discussion Paper  


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


How can we make schools safer for students, teachers and communities?

Mar 3, 2021 |  Chaired by Gary Gannon (TD, Social Democrats), our panel- Deepti Gurdasani, Olive O'Connor, Louise Gallagher, and Gabriel Scally will share their expertise, research, and experience on why we should do everything in our power to make schools safer now.

Press Release    YouTube Recording

Public health and Covid-19, a global and local perspective

Feb 24, 2021 |  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).

Press Release    YouTube Recording

Where are SARS-CoV-2 infections originating, and how can we control them?

Feb 17, 2021 |  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.

Press Release    YouTube Recording

The Government’s ‘National Framework for Living with Covid-19’ strategy has failed. Women can’t face a fourth wave in March.

Feb 10, 2021 |  Chaired by Nessa Cronin, our panel of Gabrielle Colleran, Cliona Ni Cheallaigh, Sharon Lambert, Kelly Tallant and Shauneen Brown will share their experiences and state what they need. ISAG will put forward the case for what would be different in these women’s lives under a Zero Covid strategy.

Press Release    YouTube Recording

COVID-19 – How to Keep it Down

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, and from a European perspective. Chaired by Frances Fitzgerald MEP for Dublin (Fine Gael & European People’s Party (EPP) @FitzgeraldFrncs

Press Release    YouTube Recording

COVID-19 and Border Management

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).

Press Release    YouTube Recording

The Case for International Travel Quarantine

Jan 20, 2021 |  Gabriel Scally, Visiting Professor of Public Health, University of Bristol & President of Epidemiology & Public Health section, Royal Society of Medicine, Member of the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) in Ireland & the Independent Scientific Advisory Group (IndieSAGE) in the UK. @GabrielScally

Press Release    YouTube Recording

The 3rd Wave - Schools & Strategy

Jan 13, 2021 |  Speakers: Dr. Jennifer Symonds, Associate Professor, School of Education, University College Dublin Twitter: @Jenny_Symonds - “Lessons Learned from Remote Schooling During the 1st National Lockdown in Ireland”, Simon Lewis, Primary School Principal and Editor of Twitter: @simonmlewis - “Everything I Learned About Teaching During Lockdown”. Chaired by Dr. Clare Kelly Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Trinity College Dublin and Member of the Independent Science and Advocacy Group (I.S.A.G.). Twitter: @IMMAlab

Press Release    YouTube Recording


ISAG ask 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.

Dec 31, 2020 |  Public webinar to address how a a detailed and scientifically-informed strategy is required to manage a stable reopening of society in 2021. Ireland as a whole is in a strong position to achieve aggressive suppression because Northern Ireland has initiated a hard 6-week lockdown from 26th December. We have a one-off opportunity to make the island an epidemiological unit, and to take control of our situation in this continuing pandemic.

Press Release    YouTube Recording

ISAG call on the Irish government to take decisive action and commit to a full national lockdown from 26th December 2020

Dec 21, 2020 |  Public webinar to address how a a detailed and scientifically-informed strategy is required to manage a stable reopening of society in 2021. Ireland as a whole is in a strong position to achieve aggressive suppression because Northern Ireland has initiated a hard 6-week lockdown from 26th December. We have a one-off opportunity to make the island an epidemiological unit, and to take control of our situation in this continuing pandemic.

Press Release    YouTube Recording

Back to Normality: ISAG's strategy to rid Ireland of Covid

Winter 2020 | 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, and resultant lockdowns, before vaccine based population immunity becomes a reality in late 2021

ISAG Discussion Paper  

A Better Way Forward: COVID Elimination in Northern Ireland, a compassionate, effective and decisive approach

Winter 2020 | The Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) for COVID-19 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.

ISAG Discussion Paper  

A Green Zone Strategy for Ireland

Aug 11, 2020 | A Green Zone strategy, one that selectively imposes restric- tions within a country, e.g. at county level, 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.

ISAG Discussion Paper  

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