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All Set for the Mega Drive
Gujarat has been among the worst affected by the pandemic. On day one Covishield rolled out at 161 centres in the state and around 12,000 healthcare workers got the first jab.
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Day one: The vaccination drive rolled out at 161 centres
Gujrat is widely perceived as the petroleum hub of India, being home to large oil refineries of both private and public sector companies. In terms of ‘Ease of Doing Business’, Gujarat ranks very high compared to other states in the country. The state’s Industrial Policy has been drafted to offer incentives and concessions for investors. Gujarat is among the top six states in terms of revenue. The 2020-21 budget of the state, presented at the state assembly on 26 February, 2020 – a month before the pan-India lockdown – was of a whopping Rs 2,17,287 crore, an increase of Rs 12,472 crore over 2019-20. The pandemic therefore, impacts not just the lives of the people of the state, but the economy and business prospects of a foremost industrialised state in India.
Among Worst Hit
By 23 July 2020 Gujarat had reported a record of 1078 new cases of the novel coronavirus, taking the tally of cases to 52,563. Ahmedabad had emerged as the hotspot for coronavirus in the state with 25,173 reported cases. The total death toll in the state was 2,252.
Meanwhile, in its bulletin, the state reported that as many as 38,059 people had recovered. By mid-November 2020, the tally of Covid cases stood at 1,87,240, with as many as 45,124 at Ahmedabad. As on 19 January, there were 5,967 active Covid cases in the state with 485 new cases. The numbers indicated a quick turnaround in the recovery rate, which was virtually a third compared to November 22, 2020, when the state had reported 1,515 coronavirus cases in a single day – the largest since the spread of the pandemic.
The Dry Run
Gujarat was among four states chosen by the Central government to conduct the dry run of the Covid-19 vaccination drive. A couple of days before the New Year, two districts of Gujarat, Rajkot and Gandhinagar, were put through the Covid-19 vaccination dry run to assess the preparedness for the drive. “Apart from four lakh health and six lakh frontline workers, we have identified and registered around a crore people over 50 years of age who will be covered on a priority basis in the real drive in the state,” said State Immunisation Officer (SIO) Nayan Jani.
On 16 January, 2021, the Covid-19 vaccination drive was launched in the state by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani and Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel at the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad. The Gujarat chief minister called the Covid-19 vaccination drive a “success” and said no serious case of adverse reaction had emerged from anywhere in the state. Some 12,000 people in priority groups were vaccinated in Gujarat on 16 January, the first day of a nationwide inoculation drive. Day one of the Covid-19 vaccination drive saw Covishield rollout at 161 centres in the state with around 12,000 healthcare workers receiving the first dose. Talking to media SIO Jani said, “About 15,000 vaccinators are trained to deliver the vaccines by the Health Department and a dedicated 24x7 call centre - 1075 - was also established to address the queries related to the Covid- 19 pandemic, vaccine rollout and the COWIN software.”
The First Phase
The State Health Department has identified 4.31 lakh health workers, such as doctors and nurses, for the first phase of the vaccine drive. In the second phase 6.93 lakh frontline workers, such as police personnel, 1.05 crore citizens above the age of 50 and 2.75 lakh people under 50 with comorbidities will be covered under the vaccination drive.
The vials of Covishield vaccine received is being stored in 2,169 cold storage points which include 33 district vaccine stores, eight corporation vaccine stores and six regional vaccine stores. The vaccine is also being stored at primary health centres, community health centres, and urban primary health centres. In addition, 41 vans have been deployed to transport the vaccines from the storage points to the 161 vaccination/session sites across the state.
According to the State Health Department, altogether 1,01,01,064 samples were tested in Gujarat by 9 January. Currently, the state has had as many as 2,53,161 positive cases and 7,439 active Covid-19 cases with 2,41,372 recoveries. The recovery rate in the state is as high as 95.23 per cent, while the death toll in the state is 4,350.
In keeping with national guidelines, Gujarat is carrying out the Covid-19 vaccination four days a week. Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday every week are reserved for regular vaccination for other diseases.
Gujarat, the fifth-largest Indian state in terms of area and the ninth-largest in terms of population, was initially among the worst impacted by the novel coronavirus. The vaccination drive in mid January was rolled out at a juncture when the recovery rate in the state had already improved. It revealed the immense preparedness of the state machinery to combat the deadly virus.