On 4 March 2022 Together for a safer future: Wales’ long-term COVID-19 transition from pandemic to endemic was published. This plan explains that the link between COVID-19 infection, serious illness, hospitalisation and death has been weakened significantly. This means we can begin to move beyond the emergency response to the pandemic and plan a future in which we gradually transition to living safely with coronavirus, just as we live with many other infectious diseases.
Throughout the pandemic, the Welsh Government has drawn heavily on data and analysis to inform our approach. Working with partners in Public Health Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK Health Security Agency and beyond, a large range of new data and analysis has been published, providing transparency about the evidence used to inform decisions.
The Public Health Wales rapid surveillance dashboard has provided daily headline data about testing, cases, mortality and vaccination. Alongside this, the Welsh Government has published regular scientific advice, modelling, daily data about hospital activity and analysis about school attendance, care homes, contact tracing, the latest results from the ONS COVID-19 Infection Survey and more.
Reviewing COVID-19 statistics
Analysts in the Welsh Government have continued to publish a large number of regular data and statistics outputs about COVID-19, which are available on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) related statistics and research page. As we move beyond the emergency response phase, we are now at a point where we can review what data and analysis we need now and what we will continue to need in the future. To shape this review, we’ve considered a number of factors including:
- whether the data will continue to play a prominent role in the surveillance of coronavirus and COVID-19 in future
- whether the services we measure are going to change significantly, including how this will affect data flows and whether we can produce meaningful analysis
- whether the services we measure will stop and when the data flows will end
- whether interest in the topic has declined. We have used website hits to help inform this factor
As an example, PCR testing for the general public ended on 31 March and mass testing centres closed. This means there has been a large fall in the number of PCR tests carried out every day and the weekly report we produce about PCR testing activity is now less relevant than it was previously.
What changes are we making?
Over the coming months, we will be making some changes to our Covid-19 related reports. The intention is that these changes will begin to move our approach more in line with surveillance of other respiratory diseases. Changing our current regular outputs will also provide us more capacity to do analysis on other topics, including the wide range of harms that have resulted from the pandemic.
Our plan is to retain the frequency of a number of key statistical publications, while reducing the frequency or stopping others. Broadly, the plan is to:
- Continue to publish reports on the results of the ONS COVID-19 Infection Survey for both positivity and antibodies in a release schedule that mirrors the ONS release.
- Continue to publish some key datasets on StatsWales in the same schedule we do now, but reduce the frequency of the written reports that go alongside them. This is the case for the regular hospital activity data and Care Inspectorate Wales data related to Covid-19 in adult care homes. The frequency of the StatsWales updates will be kept under review. Reports on the attendance of pupils in maintained schools will remain in their current form for at least the remainder of this school year.
- Continue in the short term and then stop providing data and reports for services that are going to end soon or change significantly. This covers our testing release that will end on 13 April following the latest changes to PCR testing, and the Test, Trace and Protect (contact tracing) release, which we expect to stop after the contact tracing service ends at the end of June.
- Stop some releases that have not been of regular interest in the recent past or where circumstances have already changed so that they are no longer relevant. This covers the Personal Protective Equipment release and the Vaccination Stock and Distribution release
Public Health Wales is also currently reviewing its regular reporting plans and the rapid surveillance dashboard.
Further information about the changes will be included in the individual releases, with some changes starting next week. We intend to keep monitoring what routine data and information is needed and if circumstances were to change in future, we will consider whether any of these reports should be stepped up again. Our specific plans are outlined below, if you have any thoughts or feedback on these plans, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Summary of changes