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A Sign Of Hope

The Punjab government received a total of 20,450 vials of the Covid-19 vaccine on January 12 from the Serum Institute of India, with each vial containing 10 doses amounting to a total of 2.04 lakh doses.

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The punjab government on Saturday 16th initiated the plan of vaccinating 1.74 lakh government and private healthcare workers in the first phase. Five vaccination sites per district have been selected for the launch where 100 beneficiaries will be allocated at each site. 

The vaccine was stored at the State Vaccine Store in the state capital Chandigarh and is made available to the Regional, District, and Block vaccine stores as per SOPs set by the Centre. 

The Punjab government received a total of 20,450 vials of the Covid-19 vaccine on January 12 from the Serum Institute of India, with each vial containing 10 doses amounting to a total of 2.04 lakh doses. Reportedly, two session sites will be live-streamed-webcast with the central government at district hospitals. 

Amarinder Singh, Chief minister of Punjab says on the first day of the vaccination drive, “It is a historic day today, we launched long and much-awaited vaccination drive for Covid-19. I thank Punjabis for their patience and support during pandemic - in the curfew and thereafter - which was aimed at reducing the peak of pandemic till such time a vaccine could be rolled out.” 

As the state goes ahead with its vaccination process, several challenges persists for the people of the state. Punjab farmers have been protesting since August 2020 and mounting pressure on the central government to repeal the central farm laws or guarantee the minimum support price (MSP). So far the central government has not been able to convince the farmers otherwise. The increase in bird flu cases have also troubled the state administration lately. They have to suspend Covid-19 testing at laboratories in order to maximise bird flu testing. 

Punjab, also known as the ‘Bread Basket of India’ which led to the first Green Revolution in the country, has a highly rich and productive agricultural land. As per the state’s economic survey 2019-20, total food grain production during the year 2018-19 amounted to 31.53 million metric tonnes. 

Before the pandemic hit, the state was expected to be among the leading producers of non-food grains as well as the various agri-products. Other leading industries in the state are textiles, tractor and auto components, pharmaceuticals, bicycle and bicycle parts, light engineering goods, among others. Punjab has easy procedures to set up a business according to a study by the World Bank and KPMG. Punjab had set up a Bureau of Investment Promotion (BIP) in December 2013 for one-stop clearance of investment proposals. BIP has powers to give approvals related to pollution control, excise and taxation, labour issues, factory licences, boiler registrations, town and country planning, land and power-related issues. 

Pandemic Impact 

Undeniably, the pandemic has been a major speed breaker in the growth trajectory of the state. Punjab, with a total of 171,000 Covid-19 cases so far, has been one of the worst affected states in the country. On September 5, Ludhiana, the state’s industrial and financial capital, ranked among the top 15 cities in the country with a high Covid-19 fatality rate. By the time December rolled around, the district had reported 24,000 infections and 958 deaths. This suggests the scale at which the industries likely to have been impacted in the state. By the end of the last year and the beginning of this, people are more than hopeful the vaccination is going to bring a much-needed turnaround for the state. Singh had announced on the first day of the vaccination drive in a tweet, “Happy to also share that along with launch of Covid-19 vaccination drive today, we have launched state-wide scheme for allotment of 7219 fair price shops in the State which will provide direct and indirect employment to over 30,000 people.” 

Vaccination Prepartion 

Further, to make sure a seamless rollout of the vaccination in the state which has a geographical area of 50,362 sq km, the State Steering Committee is coordinating closely with the National Steering Committee, while the State Task Force will work in tandem with  the district and block level task force committees for the same. Moreover, considering the need to spread awareness about the Covid-19, the Punjab government launched a one-month awareness campaign as part of ‘Mission Fateh’, involving the people of Punjab in a fight against Covid-19 and set up three committees for the implementation of its mass awareness campaign. The state had earlier requested the centre, post analysis of the available stock, for certain additional cold chain equipment, including vaccine vans, deep freezers, ice-lined refrigerators, cold boxes, vaccine carriers, ice packs, thermometers and stabilisers. As per the stats shared by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, the number of Covid-19 active cases in the state at the time of filing the story were 2343 with total fatalities over 5535.