'Living with Covid is not viable': UCC professor calls for zero Covid approach

'Living with Covid is not viable': UCC professor calls for zero Covid approach

According to Professor Ivan Perry, the campaign, ‘We Can Be Zero’ aims to showcase increasing public support for the strategy and to highlight the case for Zero Covid while also encouraging members of the public to campaign for it.

The Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) has launched a public campaign urging the Government to introduce a Zero Covid strategy.

The group, which is made up of scientists, academics and researchers, has come together to advocate the strategy of eliminating the Covid-19 virus for the island of Ireland.

According to Professor Ivan Perry, the campaign, ‘We Can Be Zero’ aims to showcase increasing public support for the strategy and to highlight the case for Zero Covid while also encouraging members of the public to campaign for it.

“It’s clear that when you talk to the general public, the majority of people are in favour of border quarantine, which is one of the key steps and I think most people would feel that we shouldn’t open up again at the end of this lockdown if the virus is still circulating in the community,” said Professor Perry.

Professor Ivan Perry is the Dean of Public Health at University College Cork and a member of ISAG.

He described the Zero Covid approach as the “least worst option” and said that the concept has been receiving particular support over the past few weeks.

“Unfortunately, from the outset, I always felt that we wouldn’t adopt a Zero Covid strategy until everything else had been tried and shown to fail and unfortunately, that’s where we now are.

“There’s also the concern about the new variants, the B.1.17 variant from the UK which is clearly more transmissible and the idea that we can live with the virus as opposed to eliminating it. I think it’s becoming clear that that’s not really a viable option.” 

The strategy includes a number of steps that reflect the approach taken my countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Perry said that each country has had to overcome issues when implementing the strategy.

“The issue of the border and so on - these are not unique issues to Ireland - and that it was some way exceptional and that it was easy for Australia and New Zealand and Taiwan and Vietnam…that argument really doesn’t stand up.

“The strategy boils down to get the virus numbers down, keep them down and keep the virus out,” he added.

However, speaking at the NPHET briefing on Monday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that there are some similarities to their strategy and what is being proposed by campaigners for Zero Covid.

He described the Zero Covid strategy as “not realistic” for Ireland in the same way that it was for countries like Australia and New Zealand.

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