A chance wasted?

Ireland could open most of its society, most small businesses and much of the hospitality industry by April if An Taoiseach Micheál Martin were to accept a zero Covid strategy immediately.

That’s according to Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) spokesperson Patricia Kearney who says that Ireland is one of the few island states in the world that hasn’t capitalised on its physical advantages.

Ms Kearney, who is a professor in epidemiology at UCC, told the Cork Independent that countries like Australia and New Zealand are good examples of how to go about implementing a zero Covid strategy.

She said the Irish Government needs to see what has worked elsewhere in its fight against the virus.

Prof Kearney said: “Lots of island nations have done well. Australia, which has huge land borders and is essentially a federation of states, has managed to successfully go towards elimination.”

“All we need is to look at the normal lives people are living in places like Australia and New Zealand and all over the world.” The UCC professor also claimed that had the Irish Government understood and embraced a zero Covid strategy this time last year, life would be a lot closer to normal now.

“I think things would be totally different. I think my children would be on mid-term and out meeting their friends. We would be seeing our family members. We wouldn't have time-sensitive surgeries being cancelled because hospitals are full,” she said. Prof. Kearney’s comments come more than a year after a letter was sent to the Government by ISAG stressing the importance of at least considering a zero Covid policy.

According to the group, there was an apparent lack of clarity surrounding the zero Covid strategy.

The group said that, if we continue with the current suppression strategy, based on what has been learned over the past year, they believe that many more people will contract the virus.

The group said that in order to stop the virus Ireland needs to “get ahead of the virus and stop reacting to it”.

ISAG is a multidisciplinary, all-island group of scientists, academics and researchers who have come together to advocate for a Covid-19 elimination strategy for the island of Ireland.

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