Dr Gabriel Scally says a COVID-19 strategy should be about 'dealing with the virus, not reopening things'.
He says public health 'hit squads' need to mobilised to deal with any local clusters that occur.
The public health expert was speaking as ministers start considering how to ease restrictions after the current level five restrictions.
A revised 'living with COVID' plan is being prepared by the Government, and is expected to be published later this month.
However, Dr Scally told The Pat Kenny Show he 'doesn't like the notion' of society living with the virus.
He said: "The notion of living with a dangerous virus that kills and disables… it doesn’t really sit well with me as a public health doctor.
"We don’t talk of living with tuberculosis, diphtheria or measles… we do everything we possibly can to get rid of these things.
“I would really love to see a strategy which talks about beating COVID, getting to Zero Covid, no COVID, or suppression of COVID… those are the sort of things that appeal to me.
"I’d like it to be a strategy for dealing with the virus, not reopening things… it should be driven by the data, not the dates."
Dr Scally said one of the weaknesses across both the UK and Ireland has been a lack of such strategies, with the focus instead on 'plans to get us out of lockdowns'.
However, he said there is now a 'great opportunity' to put in place a plan for the next 6-12 months.
He observed: "We absolutely need some really good thinking to go into how to navigate us through this next difficult period.
“I think we need to be able to mobilise and send in hit squads to deal with this virus anytime we get cases and clusters popping up. But to do that is no mean task… we’ve had a year now to mobilise public health resources at a local level.”
He said that public health doctors are ‘extraordinarily important’, and should be ‘brought into the game in a big way’ with all the necessary powers and resources.
He said it's vital to also be able to keep COVID-19 cases low in places that already have 'little or zero' incidence of the virus.
Dr Scally is currently visiting Professor of Public Health at University of Bristol.
It's same city where a coronavirus 'variant of concern' has recently been detected, with over a dozen cases reported to date.
Dr Scally said: “I’m getting my first vaccination tomorrow morning, and I’m very keen to know is it going to be effective against whatever is circulating in Bristol.
“The two things about the variants… you have to get your case numbers down in your own place and country… and you must stop the variants coming in.
"You have to do the two things: doing one is not enough."