The government has extended the suspension of scheduled international flights till August 31. The current suspension was to expire today (July 31).
India had first suspended international flights on March 22, just before the national lockdown was announced.
At the same time, the government will allow for a gradual movement of passenger traffic during the Covid-19 situation. It has signed ‘Transport Bubble’ agreements with the US, France, and Germany.
"Recently,‘Transport Bubble’ agreement has also been signed with Kuwait... More similar arrangements are likely to fructify and ease passenger movements from different countries," the government said in a notification on July 31.
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.
The suspension does not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by industry regulator DGCA.
Meanwhile, the government has approved more than 2,500 repatriation flights by foreign carriers to and from India. Further, under the Vande Bharat Mission exercise, Air India and its unit Air India Express have flown 2,67,436 passengers from May 6 to July 30, 2020. Other charters carried 4,86,811 passengers.