DGCA has extended the ban on regular international flights, until further orders. However, flights that are operational under air bubble arrangements as well as international cargo flights will continue to operate as scheduled.
While officials from the DGCA and the civil aviation ministry had proposed to lift the ban, a nod from ministry of health and family welfare was crucial, which has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation.
Ban and air-bubble arrangements
The ban on scheduled international passenger flights has been in place in India since March 23, 2020. However, special passenger flights have been operating between India and approximately 40 countries since July 2020 under air-bubble arrangements.
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.
India currently has air transport bubbles with 40 countries, including Canada, France, Germany, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the US.The DGCA, in January, had extended the suspension on international flights from and to India, in view of the rising Coronavirus cases across the world.
It has been a belief that the Centre could resume international flights from end of March, or at the beginning of the summer schedule for airlines.