'Hope for 2021' as vaccine rollout starts to take effect and coronavirus hospitalisations fall amongst older groups

The impact of the vaccine rollout on hospitalisations and Covid-deaths offers "hope for 2021" according to a statistician, who has been analysing latest data on the virus.

Jamie Jenkins said we are seeing case rate numbers come down "dramatically" and the amount of patients, particularly those over 80 years old, in hospital with Covid dropping "rapidly".

The coronavirus case rate for Wales per 100,000 of the population currently stands at around 52 and more than 951,540 people have received their first jab.

Mr Jenkins also said the impact of the vaccine is already being felt on lowering Covid-19 deaths among the older population - who have been prioritised for jabs - and this offers "hope" for unlocking the country this year.

37.7% of adults in Wales have had a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Jamie Jenkins said the circumstances surrounding the virus in Wales have improved compared to the "dire situation" the country was in around Christmas time.

"Cases were going up quite rapidly before Christmas," Mr Jenkins said.

"Since then we have seen a big fall in the number of people in hospital. We're seeing the case rate per 100,000 coming down quite dramatically.

"The percentage of tests coming back positive is coming down quite rapidly as well and it's coming down across all of Wales.

"The data is showing some positive signs, which has got to be a good thing because the hope for 2021 has been the vaccine allowing us to reopen the country."

The vaccine rollout is helping impact those numbers as Mr Jenkins explained we are already seeing a reduction in the number of older people going into hospital with the virus.

He said: "Now we've got a vaccine and we are starting to see the signs of the impact of the vaccine in terms of reducing the number of older people going into hospital, into intensive care and then sadly dying.

"If you look at the over 80s, which is one of the more high risk groups, we are seeing deaths coming down faster for those who've had the vaccine rather than say some younger age groups.

"It looks like supplies are coming in pretty well in Wales so I think it's pretty optimistic that we'll get this vaccine continuing to rollout.

"So as we move forward I think the vaccine offers that hope so that in 2021 we can unlock the country and hopefully get back to some form of normality."

The vaccine could also mean a faster easing of lockdown restrictions this time around as Mr Jenkins said arguably, it means we are in a better place to protect against the virus than we were in the first wave when we did no have a vaccine "in our armour".

Mr Jenkins added that if you compare the data on virus transmission and deaths with the measures used by Welsh Government to decide which Alert Level the country should be in, the numbers are promising.

He said: "If you look at the data and then you compare that to the different metrics the Welsh Government have published, whilst we're currently in a Level 4 lockdown in Wales the data is probably showing that for most of the metrics we are heading for Level 2 and we should be there in Level 2 at least by the time they do the next review on the 12th of March."

Mr Jenkins explained that when restrictions do begin to be eased further, it is "inevitable" that case numbers start going up. However he warned that people should not be "too alarmed".

He said what we do need to pay attention to is whether that increase in cases leads "to more people gong into hospital and with the age of the people being vaccinated, you'd hope that wouldn't be the case."