Vaccines, humankind’s best bet to tame a contagious disease, will be the subject of an international travelling exhibition next year. Titled Hunt for the Vaccine, it will be a collaboration between the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), Calcutta, and Science Museum Group, London.
The exhibition will trace the evolution of vaccines down the ages, starting with the smallpox one, the first vaccine against a contagious disease, which was developed by Britain’s Edward Jenner in 1796. It will include several other success stories, like vaccines against polio, hepatitis etc. “We want to raise awareness among the masses about the importance of vaccines, which have assumed great importance because of the current pandemic. We would also like to highlight India’s contribution to the fight against Covid-19,” said Arijit Dutta Choudhury, the director- general of the NCSM.
While some sections of the exhibition, like on how vaccines work and the global hunt for an effective vaccine, are expected to be developed together, the teams in both countries are working to develop locally relevant content.
“In the UK, they have collected the vial of the first Covid-19 vaccine that was administered. We are trying to do the same by contacting the cities where vaccination started. We are also talking to various institutes where vaccine research is going on silently, like the Haffkine Institute for Training, Research and Testing in Mumbai. We are also on the lookout for old instruments used in early vaccination drives besides highlighting how technology has speeded up the development of vaccines,” said Samarendra Kumar, director (headquarters), NCSM, who is heading the project in India.
Not just the development of Covaxin and Covishield, the logistical challenges of distributing them across India would also be a part of the show.
The exhibition will be held simultaneously in India, the UK and China. It is scheduled to be inaugurated in November 2022 in Delhi and will travel to Mumbai, Bangalore and Calcutta by September 2025. In between, it will go to Nagpur, Lucknow or Patna.
A mobile science exhibition bus will travel out of Calcutta to reach out to towns and villages where vaccine hesitancy is more, the organisers said.