About 30 crore Indians will be vaccinated against COVID-19 by July 2021, for which 60 crore doses will be needed, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on December 29.
The vaccine, he said, would be available from January. "We are working with the Ministry of Health and pharmaceutical companies to plan the roll out," Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, added, during a media briefing.
The government had identified airports and was also in talks with airlines to take care of the logistics, Puri said. "We have identified facilities that will be used for the vaccine roll out. As soon as the vaccines are announced, we will implement the plan," Kharola said.
Puri said that dry run of the vaccine drive was being done in four states. Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab and Assam are the states chosen for the trial run.
The most critical part would be the management of the vaccine's temperature, said Kharola. The vaccines come with varied requirement. The Pfizer-BioNtech jab has to be stored at minus 70 Celsius.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.