Quite like its on-field pluckiness, the Indian football team's last line of defense is putting up a resolute fight off it too, doing its bit to save the poor from the seismic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The national players are providing the needy, in their respective localities, monetary aid and food items, besides setting up camps and spreading awareness about social distancing.
The trio of defender Pritam Kotal, mid-fielder Pronay Halder and defender Prabir Das have pooled in around Rs. 4 lakh to help the needy in West Bengal.
"There are a lot of kids in the Barrackpore Mangal Pandey Football Coaching Camp who earn their bread on daily basis. The situation is a bit difficult now and I am trying to help them for the time being" said Pronay.
"I, along with my friends, are distributing basic food items to the station-dwellers and others who stay outside" added the defensive mid-fielder who is also taking care of some orphans in his locality.
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 pandemic, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province, has so far claimed over 34,000 lives while infecting more than seven lakh people across the world.
India has also been affected by the deadly virus, leading to 29 deaths and over 1100 positive cases.
As far as donations from the sporting fraternity are concerned, the influential Indian Cricket Board (BCCI) led the way with a handsome contribution of Rs. 51 crore in the fight against the pandemic.
There have been quite a few sports-persons who have pledged their support in the country's battle to contain the pandemic.
"Amid the pandemic, we all need to stand together and fight. We have tried to make small contributions to the fund initiated by our chief minister."
"We'll need to stay home and pray to the almighty. Hope we see the light at the end of the tunnel soon" the well-established Kotal told PTI.
Their inspirational captain captain Sunil Chhetri is part of both world body FIFA and Asian Football Confederation's (AFC) campaigns, aimed at breaking the chain and stemming the spread of the coronavirus.
Right-back Prabir Das, who has also played for the national football team, said, "The COVID-19 has already spread a lot and we can't take it easily anymore. In this situation, we all need to maintain the social distancing to fight together."
"As an Indian, it's my responsibility to lend a hand to the government and that's what I tried to do."
To help the poor tide over the unprecedented health crisis, a group - Players for Humanity - has been formed comprising current and former players such as Mehtab Hossain, Syed Rahim Nabi, Denson Devadas, Sandip Nandy and Debabrata Roy.
The current lot, among others, includes Kotal, Halder, Arindam Bhattacharjee, Prabir Das, Souvik Chakraborty and Debjit Majumder.All these footballers have already contributed a substantial amount of money to the West Bengal Chief Minister's Relief fund.