All India Institute of Medical Sciences Director Randeep Guleria on Friday said that those above 50 years and people with comorbidities in the 20 to 50 year age group will start getting the coronavirus vaccine from March, reported The Hindu.

Speaking at an interactive programme organised by the Union health ministry, the AIIMS chief also said it was not clear for how long the vaccine will offer protection, but estimated it to be about eight months. “A good amount of antibodies will develop in about 14 days after the second vaccine shot,” he said. “Though the exact time length about the protection offered is not clear, we believe that the cover will last for at least eight months, or may be longer.”

Guleria also emphasised the importance of every country having a vaccine, saying that people travel and become carriers of viruses. “Everyone needs to be vaccinated globally to control the spread,” he said. “Therefore, all countries need to get their share of vaccine.”

On Guleria’s remarks, infectious diseases specialist Dr Nitin Shinde said his statement will encourage more healthcare and frontline workers and even common people to take the jab, reported The Times of India. “It is said that antibodies developed after infection last for 3-5 months or more,” he said. “If antibodies developed after vaccination protect us for eight months or more, it will be a major success of the vaccination programme.”

He added that there were even chances that immunity developed from the vaccine will sustain for one year or more.

A total of 77,66,319 health and frontline workers were vaccinated till 6 pm on Friday, based on provisional data. “States/UTs have been directed to schedule vaccination for healthcare workers at least once by 20th February and mop-up rounds by February 25th,” the health ministry said. “Also for frontline workers – by 21 February, they should have received at least one dose of vaccination with mop-up round by 6 March.”

India on Friday registered 9,309 new coronavirus cases, taking the overall count to 1,08,80,603. The country’s toll rose to 1,55,447 after 87 new deaths were reported in 24 hours.

More than 1.05 crore people in India have recovered from the infection, taking the recovery rate to 97.32%. The number of active cases has been reduced to 1,35,926. This is the first time since June 11 that the active cases are less than 1.4 lakh.