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Branson warns stumbling vaccine rollout ‘risks Australian economy’

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has urged the federal government to make the vaccine rollout its “number one priority” or risk Australia falling behind the rest of the world.

Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson has urged the Australian government to make the vaccine rollout its "number one priority" or risk Australia falling behind the rest of the world.

Sir Richard told Today that vaccinating populations against COVID-19 was the key to kickstarting international travel.

"It should be the number one priority of government. Nothing else matters more to be honest. Because every single business in Australia will be held back. Every single person in Australia will be held back. The economy will suffer," he said.

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"So the sooner the remaining people who have not been vaccinated get vaccinated the better."

Sir Richard also defended Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka's controversial comments that borders should reopen even if it resulted in some deaths.

"I think we've all regretted things we've said. And I don't think Jane is any exception to the rule. She's made that clear. She's doing a great job in keeping Virgin Australia going," he said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated the vaccination of Australians will be key to opening the country.

Last week, Mr Morrison said vaccinated people were likely to have greater freedom of movement and different quarantine arrangements in the face of ongoing restrictions, even domestically.

No indication has been given as to when all Aussies might be vaccinated, after the government abandoned the timeline, however, three million have so far been done.

Sir Richard urged the federal government to speed up the vaccine rollout.

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'It's a small country, I suspect most people should have been vaccinated. If not, it should been vaccinated," Sir Richard said.

The billionaire said there was no reason international borders shouldn't reopen if everyone got the jab.

The federal government has promised two million doses of Pfizer vaccine will arrive every single week from October, meaning every Australian adult could be vaccinated by Christmas.

Aviation has been one of the hardest-hit sectors in the pandemic.

Virgin was forced to lay off thousands of staff as border closures bit.

Administrators formally sold Virgin Australia to Bain Capital after a second meeting of creditors was held in September.

Source: 9News

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