Virgin Australia, owned by a US hedge fund Bain Capital, CEO Jayne Hrdlicka made some remarks on Monday that got her in hot water.
She had suggested that it is unrealistic to keep the borders closed indefinitely and that there will be a small number of Covid-19 related deaths after the country opens up.
Here’s what she had said according to the Sydney Morning Herald:
“COVID will be part of the community, we will become sick with COVID and it won’t put us in hospital, and it won’t put people into dire straits because we’ll have a vaccine,” Ms Hrdlicka said.
“Some people may die, but it will be way smaller than with the flu.
“We’re forgetting the fact that we’ve learnt how to live with lots of viruses and challenges over the years, and we’ve got to learn how to live with this.”
But not everyone disagrees with her, according to News.com:
Australia’s former deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth has also said the idea of eradicating COVID-19 indefinitely was a “false idol”.
Dr Coatsworth said Australia needed to embrace the reality of the virus circulating in the community.
“I think we’ve been incredibly successful but with that success becomes a risk that we will be aiming for something that’s essentially not achievable,” he told the Today show on Sunday.
“If we’re not going to get to eradication because this virus is going to be circulating in the globe for many years, if not indefinitely, then at some point we need to consider that the virus will also be within our own borders … we need to help the community come to terms with that reality.”
Here’s a statement that Virgin Australia released:
Virgin Australia has and will continue to work closely with both State and Federal governments to support the health and safety of the Australian community.
We agree with State and Federal leaders that eradication of COVID-19 cannot be the goal for our country. The question is not if, but when we will be sufficiently vaccinated to protect our people and our hospital system to open our international borders.
We must learn to live with COVID-19 in the community in a way that protects the health and safety of our people but also opens Australia up to the rest of the world.
Australia and New Zealand have been successful in keeping their countries out of major Covid-19 outbreaks, but how they navigate reopening the international travel is another question.
Even when you vaccinate most of your population to the level that it reaches the herd immunity, there will be few fatal cases of Covid-19 infections. However, most will be mild or asymptomatic.
We should take all reasonable measures to protect people from Covid-19 and get the world’s population vaccinated, but it is unlikely that we could eradicate it.