Total deaths in Wales have been below average for the past 10 weeks, 93% of areas in Wales are reporting no Covid-19 cases, and just 0.22% of hospital patients have confirmed Covid-19 — wave 2 of the pandemic is over. This data is not new, and we have been in this situation for several weeks.
The Welsh Government ignores these facts and continues on a path not supported with data. At what point does this pathway cause irreversible damage?
Total deaths in Wales
Ultimately, the worse outcome for people who are unfortunate to fall seriously ill with Covid-19 is death. 83% of deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate were among people aged 70+, with 60% among people aged 80+. On average, we expect a male in Wales to live until the age of 78.5 and a female 82.3 years. I highlight these numbers to remind us that sadly people have an end to life. But we know Covid has ended many lives earlier than we would have seen had the virus not emerged.
Since the beginning of March 2021, the total number of deaths in Wales has been around 8.4% below the average we observed in the period 2015 to 2019 for the same weeks. One reason for this is because some people losing lives prematurely over the past year, but the data clearly shows that Covid-19 is no longer killing people in Wales over and above what you would expect for the time of year.
If we split Wales up into 410 small areas to which Public Health Wales publishes data related to Covid, for the 7-day period to 15 May, 94%, or 384 of them, saw no Covid cases reported. This was because there were none, or only one or two, which is deemed too low to publish.
So we know most of Wales has hardly any Covid cases.
With so few cases across Wales, this also shows up when you look at the number of patients in hospital. In the 7 days to 19 May there were on average 8,206 patients in Welsh hospitals and this was higher than at any point during the winter months. Of these patients, there were just 18 confirmed with Covid-19, 0.22% of total patients.
So far from the NHS being under any pressure due to Covid-19, many hospitals have no Covid-19 patients at all.
The wider damage
While Mark Drakeford has focused his attention on the Covid situation in Wales we have seen:
- 33,000 people come off the payroll and losing their job in Wales between March 2020 and 2021 (Source: ONS)
- A doubling of the number of adults reporting depressive symptoms across Great Britain (Source: ONS)
- A 54-fold increase in the number of patients waiting over 24 weeks for a diagnostic or therapy service in Wales — from 337 patients in March 2020 to 18,108 in March 2021 (Source: Welsh Government)
- A 25% increase in patients waiting to start treatment, from 457,000 in March 2020 to 568,000 in March 2021. More worryingly we have seen a 664% increase in patients waiting over 36 weeks to start treatment, from 28,294 patients in March 2020 to 216,418 patients in March 2021 (Source: Welsh Government)
- The target of 65% to respond to the most serious (red calls) ambulance calls within 8 minutes has been missed for 9 consecutive months (Source: Welsh Government)
- Around 3,500 cancer patients ‘missing’ from treatment services (Source: Macmillan via BBC)
Over 80% of adults in Wales have had a dose of a Covid vaccine and focusing only on vulnerable people is closer to 95%.
We need Welsh Government ministers to educate themselves on the data and start to follow it before many more lives are lost unnecessarily.