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Coronavirus impact | American Airlines to ask for $12 bn in govt relief: Wall Street Journal

The airline industry is one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, with US airlines suspending most transatlantic flights and many domestic routes.

March 31, 2020 / 02:24 PM IST

American Airlines will seek $12 billion in government assistance to steer the carrier through the global aviation downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

The airline industry is one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, with US airlines suspending most transatlantic flights and many domestic routes.

The US Congress has designated $50 billion in spending for the industry in its $2 trillion coronavirus economic rescue package.

American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker and president Robert Isom said in a Monday memo to staff that it would seek nearly a quarter of the relief funds on offer.

"We intend to apply for these funds and are confident that... they will allow us to fly through even the worst of potential future scenarios," the pair wrote, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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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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Trump administration officials have said they are examining the possibility of taking equity shares in airlines as part of the bailout plan for the industry.

"I think in return for direct cash grants, which is what the airlines have asked for, I see no reason why the American taxpayer shouldn't get a piece," White House economics adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News on March 29.
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