Who we are
Covid Action UK (formerly known as Zero Covid UK) is a grassroots, activist campaign of individuals and affiliated labour and trade union organisations who came together in November 2020 to challenge the UK government’s approach to the pandemic.
We are putting forward an alternative strategy, aimed at eliminating community transmission of Covid-19. We are campaigning for this to be adopted by Labour and all other political parties, the Westminster government, and the governments of all the devolved nations in these islands, in order to save lives, prevent the collapse of the NHS and care systems, and stamp down on Covid-19 and all its variants.
An elimination strategy has been supported by numerous scientists, doctors, epidemiologists, and public health experts, and has been implemented by a variety of countries around the world. We want to see Covid transmission driven down to low levels, to stop more new variants emerging, and to end the continued threat to the lives, wellbeing, and economic potential of the global community that has blighted all our lives since 2020.
What we stand for
In contrast to the UK government’s ‘Just Vaccines’ approach, and along with expert bodies such as Independent Sage and the World Health Organisation, Covid Action supports Vaccines Plus.
Vaccines Plus means vaccination plus mitigation and protection, so we are campaigning for:
- A comprehensive elimination strategy, based on tried-and-tested public health principles, as the only alternative to the UK government’s chaotic policy of ‘living with the virus’, with its on-off lockdowns, needless deaths and long-term chronic physical and mental health illnesses.
- A mass vaccination programme combined with an effective and fully funded Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) operation run by the NHS and local authorities.
This means getting rid of the privatised, ineffectual contractor- and consultant-run ‘NHS Test and Trace’, which is costing English taxpayers a massive £37 billion. A sufficient and free supply of tests must always be available for all members of the public.
- Provision of wide-ranging practical, mental health and financial support and assistance, for all those required to shield or self-isolate.
This means increasing Statutory Sick Pay and the restoration of the Universal Credit cut, priority grocery deliveries, alternative accommodation if needed, financial support to self-isolate, and employers required to facilitate time-off.
- All workplaces, including schools, colleges, retail, hospitality venues and transportation, being certified as Covid-safe in consultation with trade unions and/or public health authorities; and for the right to work and study at home and/or flexibly where possible.
This means that all workplaces, including hospitality, sporting and entertainment venues, must publicly show their certification, and the Health & Safety Executive must be given sufficient powers, staff and funding to carry out its statutory duties. Achieving this will take a massive investment in ventilation, including CO2 monitors and HEPA filters being installed in all classrooms and indoor public venues.
- Continuing personal protection measures such as social distancing, handwashing, and mask-wearing in all indoor public places.
This means all NHS, social care staff, teachers and those deemed at high risk should be issued with free FFP2/3 masks and the public advised of their advantage over cloth face-coverings.
- Financial support for businesses and the self-employed, in particular by the use of state-funded furlough, grants and tax cuts.
This means targeting support to SMEs and key sectors of the economy, to be determined in consultation with the trade unions, and instituting rigorous procedures to prevent the fraud and corruption of previous government schemes.
- Effective, affordable or free compassionate quarantine and testing management for international travellers, based on public health requirements and with no connection to immigration enforcement.
This means free testing and subsidised and safe quarantine accommodation when necessary, and no discriminatory banning of travellers from specific countries or regions.
- Coherent and repeated public information and education campaigns across all platforms and media on the collective and personal benefits of vaccination, countering lies and misinformation, explaining the risks and effects of Long Covid, the reasons for mask-wearing, and why good ventilation is needed to counter an airborne infection.
- Acting speedily to stamp out any new outbreaks – acting before an outbreak has established itself always works better.
Our Vaccines Plus approach means that mass vaccination is at the heart of the elimination strategy.
- To facilitate this, employers should provide vaccination hubs at larger workplaces and give staff paid time-off for vaccination and its possible after-effects.
- We work alongside community and public health campaigns to counter vaccine hesitancy; and call for a coherent, non-party political government campaign explaining the public health and collective benefits of vaccination.
- We strongly oppose, and will always challenge, the arguments and actions of anti-vaccination campaigners who are spreading lies and misinformation which undermine community solidarity, confidence in essential public health measures and NHS professionals, and trust in science.
- We support publicly funded, not-for-profit research to develop new vaccines and antiviral drugs, and condemn plans to privatise the Vaccine Manufacturing and Innovation Centre.
- We are an internationalist campaign fighting a global pandemic. We support the speedy deployment of vaccines globally without trade or patent restrictions, with the free transfer of technology and knowhow, funded by developed countries and global corporations, as an essential part of a comprehensive worldwide public health strategy to eliminate Covid-19 and minimise the risk of future infections and the mutations they enable.
- We campaign for a World Trade Organisation intellectual property rights (TRIPS) waiver for Covid-19 vaccines that would allow low- and middle-income countries to produce their own vaccines. We condemn the Westminster government’s veto of this waiver.
How we work
Our campaign is run by volunteers and supporters. When possible, we meet in person to work within our local communities and campaign on the streets. However, by necessity in current circumstances, most of our campaigning is conducted online and through social media.
We hold regular online Zoom meetings on a range of subjects connected with the pandemic, featuring interesting speakers; and we also hold longer webinars at weekends where we have been pleased to welcome a variety of inspiring experts and international speakers. All our meetings aim to be participatory so that our supporters have a chance to ask questions and put forward their own views.
We send out regular newsletters; provide speakers and model motions for political and trade union meetings and conferences; issue press releases; and write articles and letters.
Our Steering Committee comprises volunteers who bring a range of different experience and expertise to decision-making. There are working groups and teams on specific issues and aspects of the campaign, such as Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS), press and media, finance, and science, which our supporters are always welcome to join. New working groups are set up as the political situation demands and the campaign evolves.
Who we work with
We work with a variety of organisations in the UK and internationally. We are part of the Zero Covid Coalition and the international Zero Covid Alliance. We support the World Health Network, Global Justice Now, and The People’s Vaccine. We also have close links with many organisations and campaigns that oppose the UK government’s approach, and campaign alongside all those who have suffered loss or long-term illness as a consequence of this government’s actions.
We welcome affiliations and support from other organisations. Our affiliates include national trade unions such as the National Education Union, the Bakers Union and ASLEF, the Socialist Health Association, the Hazards Campaign, and many local trade union branches.
Because of the dangerous effects of this legislation on the NHS and our right to protest, we oppose both the Health & Social Care Bill, and the Police, Crime, Sentencing & Courts Bill, and support those campaigning against them.
We support Keep Our NHS Public’s People’s Covid Inquiry as well as all those demanding an immediate independent statutory inquiry into the UK government’s handling of the pandemic.
We work with health campaigns such as Keep Our NHS Public, SOS NHS and Health Campaigns Together against privatisation and for a fully-funded NHS.
We stand for a Covid-19 response that prioritises people over profit, and believe that real freedom means being free from this virus. Join us and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Read more about Why we campaign