In a refreshing display of candor, the Virgin Australia CEO has called upon the Australian government to re-open borders once the adult population has been offered vaccinations, even if it leads to death.
Virgin Australia CEO Says International Borders Should Open Even if People Die As A Result
Speaking personally, Australia has been an enigma to me. It is one of my favorite nations in the world and I greatly respect the way it has controlled the pandemic. Within Australia, life is largely back to normal, with restaurants and cafés open and people not wearing masks…and it has been this way for months. Australia has reported only 910 deaths throughout the pandemic (compared to over 586K in the USA).
I also respect the commitment to life that Australia has shown, even at great economic cost (in the form of lost international commerce). There is something to be said for the idea that there is no freedom without life itself. While I do not think “give me liberty or give me death” is a unique American mentality, the balance Australia struck has been impressive.
Now here comes the but. I think Jayne Hrdlicka, the CEO of Virgin Australia, makes a compelling point when she told a crowd earlier today that “some people may die” when borders are reopened.
“We can’t keep it out forever. It’s not in anybody’s interest to do that.”
“We’re all going to be sicker than we ever have in the past because we’re not exposed to the virus and challenges of the rest of the world. We need to get the borders open for our health and for the economy.”
The issue is not if people “may” die but how many will die. It is simply inevitable, even with advance testing protocols, quarantine, and contact tracing.
And that becomes one of the ethical dilemma of our time, doesn’t it? What are the unintended consequences of barring international travel? What is a life worth? Ultimately, what balance should we strike? It may take years for us to know the answer and only in retrospect.
And yet there is something refreshing about the candor of Hrdlicka’s statement that in some ways Australia is just prolonging the inevitable by warning borders will remain closed until mid to late 2022.
I’m not in a position to tell Australian state governments or the federal government how to act. But from my own vantage point, once everyone has had a chance to get the jab, it is indeed time to re-open. Those who choose not to get it will open themselves up to additional risk, but that is a risk of their own choosing. So-called “brake measure” are reasonable in case of a rapid surge in cases.
Of course the issue is not that simple, but indefinite travel bans take on a whole new cost when vaccinated populations are largely resistant to the pandemic. Like so many other viruses, we need to accept that it will always be with us to some degree. Hopefully, however, vaccines will allow us to control it like we control so many other viruses.
Was Jayne Hrdlicka speaking the truth or out-of-line in her comments?
(H/T: Paddle Your Own Kanoo // image: Virgin Australia)