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India extends suspension of scheduled international flights till January 31

This suspension will not be applicable to any international all-cargo operation and flight specifically approved by the DGCA.

December 09, 2021 / 07:05 PM IST
Representative Image (Source: Shutterstock)

Representative Image (Source: Shutterstock)

The suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to and from India has been extended till January 31, 2022, the Director-General of Civil Aviation announced on December 9.

The ban on scheduled international flights will be in place till 11:59 pm on January 31.

This suspension will not be applicable to any international all-cargo operation and flight specifically approved by the DGCA.

A circular issued by the civil aviation regulator read: “In partial modification of circular dated 26-11-2021, the competent authority has decided to extend the suspension of scheduled international commercial passenger services to/from India till 2359 hrs IST of January 31, 2022. This restriction shall not apply to international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by DGCA.”

The DGCA further clarified that some international scheduled flights may be allowed on select routes by the competent authority on a case-to-case basis.

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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.

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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.

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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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Scheduled international passenger flights have been suspended in India since March 23, 2020, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. However, special international flights have been operating under the Vande Bharat mission to help expats fly back home and under special diplomatic arrangements with various countries since July 2020. India has air bubble arrangements with nearly 28 nations, including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

In view of satisfactory COVID-19 vaccination coverage and fast declining active coronavirus cases in the country, the Government of India had planned to resume operation of scheduled international passenger flights from December 15. But, the order had to be revoked after a new, heavily mutated strain of the novel coronavirus – the Omicron variant – was detected in South Africa raising fresh concerns about health safety and related protocols.

Follow our coverage of the coronavirus crisis here 



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