Almost as many children aged 15 and under have been in hospital with Covid-19 in Swansea Bay over the last three months than the whole of the rest of the pandemic.
So far 93 children in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot have been ill enough to need inpatient treatment for Covid-19 since the pandemic began in March 2020. But almost half of those, 45, have been admitted this July, August and up to 24th September.
The increase in paediatric admissions mirrors a steep rise in Covid-19 community infection rates in comprehensive school age children in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot, currently running at one in 50 under-18s.
“These cases demonstrate that children are not invulnerable to Covid-19, and can and do become ill from it,” said Swansea Bay Director of Public Health, Dr Keith Reid.
“While children are much less likely than older adults to get seriously ill with Covid, it is noticeable and worrying that there is currently a spike in paediatric admissions.
“However this is not surprising given that there has been such a big rise overall in the numbers of comprehensive school age children getting Covid in our region. Unfortunately, there is also an increase in younger primary age children now testing positive as well.
“Swansea Bay currently has some of the highest overall Covid-19 infection rates in the UK, and younger people – particularly under-18s – are now by far the biggest single group of confirmed infections.”
Infection rates in school age children are now 3 to 4 times higher than any other age group, with around 500 youngsters infected in the last week alone
Swansea Bay is starting vaccinating 12-15 year-olds on Monday, 4th October. Letters are being sent to homes with appointments at mass vaccination centres in Swansea and Margam. The aim is have offered all young people in this age group an appointment letter by 1st November.
How many people have been in hospital with Covid in Swansea Bay?
In total, by 24th September, 3,237 people with Covid have been inpatients in Swansea Bay hospitals.
During the first peak, March and April 2020, there were 404 individual Covid patients in our beds. In the next peak, December 2020 and January 2021, there were 1099. In the latest peak, this August and up to 24th September, we have treated 371 Covid-positive inpatients.
Swansea Bay currently has 65 confirmed Covid-19 cases in our hospitals, with nine people receiving critical care. This daily figure is relatively steady, and has been holding in the mid-60s for a couple of weeks. (These are not necessarily the same patients, as new patients are admitted, discharged, and sadly, some have died.)
Proportion of younger/older inpatients
The proportion of younger Covid-19 inpatients has risen dramatically during this current peak, compared with the two earlier peaks in the pandemic.
This is in line with vaccinations across different age groups, with more older adults double-vaccinated compared to younger ones.
In the first two peaks of the pandemic - March/April 2020, and December 2020/January 2021 – around 3%-4% of Swansea Bay inpatient cases were aged 16-29.
But now, in August and September, the proportion of younger adults has quadrupled, making up between 13.7% -18.6% of cases on our wards.
By contrast, older adults, aged 50+ accounted for more than eight out of 10 Covid-19 inpatient cases in the first two peaks. Now, that proportion as dropped to around half.
It isn’t just the proportion of older people which has gone down. The overall numbers of over-50s on our wards have also fallen from of 341 in March/April 2020; 895 in Dec/Jan, to 213 in August/September.
Figures show the vaccines work
“People are still being admitted with Covid-19, and some of them have been vaccinated. But that does not mean the vaccine isn’t working,” said Dr Reid.
“On the contrary. Community infection rates in Swansea Bay are now as high as they were in the highest peak in December and January, but inpatient rates are about a third of what they were then. And of the people admitted, fewer need critical care.
“The difference in the proportion of younger and older inpatients in our hospitals since the vaccination programme began also demonstrates the protection the vaccine offers.
“The vaccination is not guaranteed to stop you getting Covid, but if you do, you are likely to get less sick. This is because the vaccine has already trained your immune system to fight the virus. These real-life statistics bear this out.”
Dr Reid urged anyone who has not yet taken up the offer of a Covid-19 vaccination to reconsider. While no vaccine was 100% effective, it was one of the biggest tools in the fight against Covid-19, he said.
“It’s not too late to get your vaccinations, please make an appointment to safeguard yourself and others.”
While our drop-in vaccination sessions are currently paused to accommodate vaccinating 12-15 year-olds, third doses for immuno-suppressed patients and booster doses, people can still get a first dose appointment by phoning 01792 200492 or 01639 862323 between 9am-5pm, Monday - Saturday. Or emailing email@example.com