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Zero Covid Campaigner: Say, what about lockdown until…2023?

Professor Gerry Killeen will be familiar to readers of Gript, being, as he is, one of the leading lights in the Zero Covid campaign, and being the apparent owner of an access-all-areas pass for the RTÉ campus in Donnybrook, where he’s never off the air.

Professor Killeen, like a lot of the Zero Covid types, is a big twitter user, and regularly shares his (very influential) thoughts on the platform. This weekend, he decided to share his thoughts on how long Ireland needs to remain in lockdown, in a series of tweets:

One twitter user asked Killeen precisely what he meant, and got this answer:

“MHQ”, if you’re wondering, is short for “Mandatory Hotel Quarantine”.

Before absolutely shredding this nonsense (and believe me, we’ll get to that) it is necessary, out of fairness, to at least try to explain where Killeen and his Zero Covid colleagues are coming from. Their theory (it’s in the name of their campaign: Zero Covid) is that society can only return to “normal” when the Coronavirus is fully eliminated. They base this assessment off the idea that the vaccines, while good, do not fully eliminate Covid, and allow for the chance that the virus might mutate into a vaccine busting variant that could undo all the “good work” of lockdown.

Their ultimate goal, then, in a sentence, is to shut the country down until Covid is eliminated here, and then shut the country off from the world with mandatory quarantine and travel restrictions until Covid is eliminated across the globe. Only when it’s totally gone, under this approach, does life return to normal.

Let’s be absolutely clear about this: This is madness.

It is madness for several reasons. The first and most obvious is that as a small country, we cannot ever be guaranteed that the rest of the world would ever agree to match our approach of Covid elimination. If you want to “eliminate” Covid, and places like Texas and Florida and Sweden won’t play ball with your madcap plan, then you will simply never be able to open the country up again, because the risk of Covid returning will always exist.

Second, the policies necessary to achieve what these people call “elimination” are inhumane. It would involve shutting tens of thousands of people away from their families for years on end. It would involve the destruction of even those businesses which have survived until now. It would almost certainly involve the prolonged closure of schools, well into next year and beyond.

Third, even if the world adopted this approach, and it had no economic costs, it would be impossible for Ireland to deliver this approach successfully. We are not an island nation – we are a nation with a land border with another jurisdiction, one which is moving in a radically different approach, and intends to fully re-open its economy this summer. Gerry Killeen and his friends may have basically limitless access to RTE, but they have no influence over thinking in London. Our land border makes the idea of border controls a joke – especially once people begin to figure out how to use that border to evade our nonsensical mandatory quarantine regime.

Of course, people have terrible ideas all the time. The issue with Killeen and Zero Covid, of course, is that their terrible ideas are regularly aired, without substantive criticism, in the rest of the media. When this website reported, earlier this year, the group’s internal communications, which were leaked to us by somebody who had become very alarmed at their megalomania, we revealed that internally they were urging each other to use the media to “stoke fear” in the population. Killeen himself spoke about desiring to “take a hurley” to people who disagreed with him. Despite this, their media profile and influence remains largely unchanged, even as they push ideas which are objectively insane.

Zero Covid, let’s be clear, is a terrible idea with terrible consequences. We saw it this weekend, when fully vaccinated people were locked up, without trial, by the Government, and prevented from seeing their dying relatives. We see it every day in the businesses and people who are already facing ruin from a year of lockdown. The people who don’t see it, of course, are the academics on guaranteed salaries, who haven’t lost a penny from the madcap policies they have been shoving into the mainstream for the past year.

The Government is likely to ignore Killeen, this time. It’s an awful pity the media wouldn’t follow suit.

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