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From Plane to Truck, Car, Boat & Finally on Foot, How Covid-19 Vaccine Reached Remotest Parts of India

Marrying technology with a spirit to eliminate the virus from the country also led to ingenious solutions such as the use of drones to deliver vaccines

March 24, 2023 / 09:53 PM IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on ‘The Vial – India’s Vaccine Story’ --- History TV18’s brand new documentary about the country’s incredible Covid-19 vaccine journey. (Screengrab)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on ‘The Vial – India’s Vaccine Story’ --- History TV18’s brand new documentary about the country’s incredible Covid-19 vaccine journey. (Screengrab)

India’s diversity has always been its crown jewel. Celebrated for its vast and different terrains, the country, however, faced a mega challenge when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the need of the hour was to vaccinate a huge population in the remotest corners.

Detailing the action plan during the pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in ‘The Vial – India’s Vaccine Story’ --- History TV18’s new documentary on the country’s Covid-19 vaccine journey --- said airplanes would fly across the country day and night carrying vaccines. “It took a lot of effort. We put a lot of other government work on hold,” he said.

Follow India's vaccine story documentary on Histroy TV18 also on Twitter via #IndiaVaccineStory

In an interesting case study shared in the documentary, which aired at 8pm on Friday, actor and narrator Manoj Bajpayee explained how the vaccines reached a small village in Mizoram.

To reach Nunsury village, the vaccines started their 1500-kilometre ‘yatra’ from Pune where they were manufactured. They first reached Kolkata’s regional storage centre from where they were transported to Aizawl. The journey then continued via truck to Lunglei, in a car till Tlabung and finally via a boat to Nunsury. The challenge, however, was not over yet.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

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.

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Healthcare workers and vaccinators then set off on foot to ensure not even one villager was left behind in the world’s biggest inoculation drive.

Marrying technology with a spirit to eliminate the virus from the country also led to ingenious solutions. It was decided to use drones to deliver vaccines in the remotest parts of the North-eastern states of Nagaland and Manipur.

Dr Sumit Aggarwal, a scientist with the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said: “The motto was that if we can deliver these vaccines by drone to these remote areas, then we can deliver in any part of India.”

It was the grit of frontline workers and scientists as well as a desire to save mankind that gave rise to India’s vaccination feat which is praised the world over.

A look at ‘The Vial – India’s Vaccine Story’

The brand new documentary on the country’s incredible Covid-19 vaccine journey brings to life the inside story of what went into producing the Covid-19 vaccine vial, revealing the country’s success in developing, manufacturing and delivering the vaccine in unprecedented timelines.

The 60-minute documentary is the first of its kind to feature PM Modi where he speaks in detail about India’s victory over the coronavirus pandemic.

‘The Vial’ takes a closer look at some of the case studies that put the spotlight on the determination of the Indian government and health workers in making vaccines accessible to people even in the remotest areas, braving harsh terrain and landscapes.

Today, a majority of India’s 1.3 billion people have received at least one round of the vaccine — a herculean task, given the diversity of the country. India also set an example for the world with the Vaccine Maitri initiative through which 232.43 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine were provided across 100 countries.