At times, the pandemic has been a data overload with numbers and figures thrown at us, from R-rates to cases, hospitalisations to vaccines.

At other times, there has been a paucity of data. Where is the data to back up that decision to close the gym? Why are governments closing schools but keeping airports open?

Yet, in Wales, as the government, public health organisations and the media scrambled to present data in a way that was accessible and informative, one person stole a march and became a voice of authority on Covid statistics.

That person is Lloyd Warburton, he is seventeen, and he did it all from his bedroom in Aberystwyth. Last week, after posting Covid stats for 430 days, Lloyd announced he will no longer give daily updates.

The announcement was received with widespread appreciation for his efforts, with thanks coming from far and wide.

Lloyd’s reach on Twitter has topped 23,000 followers, with his website and updates cited by politicians, journalists and health professionals alike.

Currently studying Biology, Physics, Geography, Maths and Welsh Baccalaureate in sixth form at Ysgol Penglais in Aberystwyth, it was in the school’s library where his journey to become one of Wales’ most trusted Covid sources began.

“As Wales started getting covid cases, I was in the school library, and I thought ‘this is a chance now to put some numbers on a slide'. It just grew from there,” he told The National.

“I thought if I was going to be lumbered with nothing to do, I may as well start something. I love stats and data, and I wanted to use the opportunity to build some skills.

“In hindsight it makes sense, but it was weird at the time all of a sudden having people from across Wales following and interacting with me.

“I had the initiative and the time on my hands, while big organisations had a lot on their plates at the time.”

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Publishing public health stats and data on a daily basis is no mean feat. For large organisations, teams of individuals have worked on data and visualisation, but for Lloyd it’s been a one man show.

Even though he has toyed with the idea of finishing this project earlier, he believes he had a duty to keep people informed throughout.

A second wave over Christmas scuppered any desire to step away, but now the situation in Wales looks far more positive, now is the time to move onto something new.

“At the start it was a hobby project, and I thought it would just be a few weeks of posting stuff on Twitter,” he continued.

“Then, when the rates were really low last summer, I thought I only have a few weeks left of this. I was obviously wrong and then I thought to stop during the second wave wouldn’t be the best thing to do.

“There are a few days where I have posted late a couple of times and I suppose at times I have felt a little pressure, but overall it’s been okay.

“Teachers and staff at school have been really supportive, but as school has returned, I have less spare time and that’s why I am stepping away now.”

Naturally, as somebody interested and engaged in politics, the recent elections in Wales provided another opportunity to use and refine his skills.

He ran comprehensive coverage of both the Senedd and Police and Crime Commissioner election on his website, and stats are definitely something he wants to maintain as a hobby and side project moving forward.

So what next for a guy who appears to have the world at his feet and a CV brimming with skills and experience crafted through a global pandemic?

A career in statistics, the media, communications or even politics? For Lloyd, it’s one thing at a time, but science is what interests him most.

“I am battling through the next year of A Levels, then I would love to stay in Wales to go to university. I would like to do something biology related.

“I have always liked stats but it has always just been a hobby to me. If I was to go into the Office of National Statistics or something like that, I feel like it would stop being a hobby.”

Whatever Lloyd decides to do next, he has the experience of being a pioneer during a year like no other behind him.

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