The Channel Nine star spoke to the President’s former senior Covid response advisor, Andy Slavitt, about the pitfalls America has faced since throwing its doors open in the wake of the ongoing pandemic.
He hinted that Australia could be forced to implement a number of vaccine mandates for certain types of workers, including health and government staff.
The candid chat comes as New South Wales plans to allow double-dosed residents more freedoms next month under a vaccine passport system when jab rates eclipse 70 per cent – a move seen as highly controversial.
‘You will do better than we did,’ Mr Slavitt told 60 Minutes on Sunday.
‘You will. It’s impossible to do as bad as we have done.’
The slowdown in vaccinations coincided with a new surge in coronavirus infections, chiefly fueled by the highly-contagious Delta variant
The total number of Covid-related death in the US is once again starting to soar
Cases in the US dropped from 304,000 in a single day on January 8 down to below 10,000 in June.
But as the nation’s reopening kicked into gear through the Northern Hemisphere summer break, infections have once again started to surge – climbing to more than 170,000 in a single day on September 10.
There are now around 700 people dying from the virus every day across the US, with a total of 660,000 losing their lives to Covid since the pandemic began.
‘You really did stuff it up in the US. Hard yards,’ Stefanovic said.
‘Yeah,’ Mr Slavitt admitted. ‘You should just keep looking at the US and say if we continue on this course, that’s what we could look like.’
‘If someone takes a lesson from how we have handled it, I’ll feel a little bit better.’
There are fears from some health experts Down Under that the number of cases will skyrocket once the reopening goes ahead.
Andy Slavitt, a high-ranking policy advisor to Presidents Barack Obama (pictured together) and Joe Biden, said Australia could not do a worse job than the US when it comes to reopening from the Covid pandemic
Once America’s Covid reopening kicked into gear through the summer break, infections have once again started to surge – climbing to over 170,000 in a single day on September 10. Pictured: Anti-vax protesters are seen at a rally in Pennsylvania
How the US compares to Australia on Covid
Cases – 41.6 million
Deaths – 660,000
NSW is currently seeing around 1,300 cases a day with hospitals and the state’s broader healthcare system already struggling to keep up with the influx of patients.
Although President Biden initially said vaccines should not be made mandatory, a view shared by Scott Morrison and the Australian government, the President is now shifting his stance as the Delta variant continues to ravage the nation.
He is pushing for businesses with more than 100 employees to vaccinate their staff, or force them to get weekly tests as a condition of their employment.
Mr Slavitt said it could be in Australia’s best interest to follow a similar course.
‘There will be certain sectors, certain segments of the population where it will be almost as if there was a mandate.
‘Healthcare, the military, government contractors, federal employees.
‘And I am quite sure most people will think it’s fine.
‘Changes are always rough at the beginning but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them.
‘It just means there is going to have to be some tough choices and some tough decisions.
‘That is what politicians need to do. They need to make tough decisions and if they can’t they should step down and let someone else do the job.’
Although President Biden initially said vaccines should not be made mandatory, the President is now shifting his stance as the Delta variant continues to ravage the nation. Pictured: An anti-vax protester in Ohio
Karl Stefanovic (pictured on 60 Minutes) did not pull any punches when he told one of Joe Biden’s top Covid advisors the US had really ‘stuffed things up’
But at the moment those ‘tough decisions’ are being palmed off to Australian businesses as the federal government refuses to take a position on mandatory vaccinations.
‘Essentially our government has outsourced the responsibility for mandating vaccination,’ employment law expert Ian Neil SC told the program.
‘They have entered the field to some degree in aged care, healthcare and some other setting but in general the position has been that it’s up to employers to make that call for themselves, to implement it and to run those legal risks for doing so.’
While several companies including Qantas, Virgin, Telstra and canned food processor SPC, have moved to mandate jabs for their staff, for smaller businesses hoping to do the same, they could be entering a ‘legal minefield’.
‘They intend to introduce mandatory vaccination policies because they are resourced to be able to do so but small businesses don’t have those resources,’ Mr Neil said.
‘Small businesses are entering a legal minefield with very little guidance from above.
‘There will be a lot of cases coming before the courts in this area and that’s because there is a lack of clarity.’