COVID-19 patient volume at YNHHS drops 45% in past two weeks


As the Yale New Haven health system continues to monitor breakthrough infections, noting low infection rates among those vaccinated, it has also seen a significant decrease in the number of COVID-19 patients.


Ryan Chiao, photo editor

Yale New Haven’s healthcare system has seen the number of COVID-19 patients drop 45% over the past two weeks, YNHHS CEO Marna Borgstrom told a press conference on Tuesday. The trend signals a trend reversal for hospitalizations during a pandemic.

While YNHHS had 132 COVID-19 patients in its hospitals two weeks ago, that number has fallen to 74 as of September 21. Twenty-six of these patients are currently in the intensive care unit and 22 are on ventilators. According to Borgstrom, two-thirds of all these COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. YNHHS officials also spoke about groundbreaking cases at Tuesday’s press conference and stressed the importance of preventive measures such as social distancing, mask wearing and vaccination.

“I think this continues to show the remarkable impact the vaccine has had and can have on people with serious illness and to limit the number of people requiring hospitalization,” Borgstrom said at the press conference Tuesday.

YNHHS Chief Medical Officer Thomas Balcezak stressed that although the remaining third of admitted patients who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 are vaccinated, the overwhelming majority of them did not come. in hospital because of COVID-19. In fact, many only find out their infectious status when tested upon admission to hospital.

In fact, groundbreaking cases represent more than 10% of patients admitted for COVID-19 to YNHHS, Balcezak said. Although the numbers vary from week to week, he explained that they were always “very small numbers”.

Balcezak also pointed out that while groundbreaking cases may arise, vaccines remain the best way to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 – especially in light of the Delta variant and other variants that may emerge at the future.

A recent Yale study published in The Lancet, first authored by Prerak Juthani MED ’22 SOM ’22 and led by Hyung Chun, director of translational research for Yale’s pulmonary vascular disease program, looked at the number and the distribution of revolutionary infections observed by YNHHS between March 23 and July 1 of this year.

“Although vaccines are highly protective against the risk of death or hospitalization from COVID-19, it is clear that some of the fully vaccinated patients can develop breakthrough infections and the risk of severe breakthrough cases increases in older patients. Chun wrote in an email to News. “While we must continue to strongly encourage vaccination for all who are eligible, it is important to realize that no vaccine is 100% effective, and additional strategies, such as the best use of booster vaccines and continued policies of social distancing and masking, will be important as we continue to fight this pandemic. “

Of the 969 COVID-19 patients their team detected, only 54 were fully vaccinated and therefore constituted “true revolutionary cases”, according to Juthani. Because people are not considered fully vaccinated until 14 days after their second dose of the vaccine, these patients either experienced symptoms for the first time or tested positive for the virus after this time. The other 915 infected people – who represent 94% of these patients – were not fully vaccinated.

Another notable finding from this study was that nearly a fifth of patients who were infected with COVID-19 had received at least one dose of the vaccine, but had not completed its full cycle, underscoring the importance of getting both doses.

“It is reassuring to know that even when breakthrough infections do occur, VERY few people end up with serious illness (ICU or even ventilation),” Juthani wrote in an email to News. “Instead of, [the] the majority are recovering and do not tend to have such a severe hospital course. “

A better understanding of the populations most susceptible to breakthrough infections can inform public health directions – such as recommendations on social distancing, Juthani explained.

To that end, Chun’s team is currently conducting studies that will seek to determine why some people get breakthrough infections while others don’t.

“We are testing the blood of patients infected with COVID-19 with severe symptoms who are either vaccinated (breakthrough) or unvaccinated,” Chun wrote. “We hope to learn from the study of key differences in blood biomarkers that may be responsible for the severity of the disease that may apply to both or be unique to these cases.”

On Thursday, September 23, the office of Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont reported that the state’s COVID-19 positivity rate was 2.28%.


Maria Fernanda Pacheco is a reporter for the Science & Technology office of the Yale Daily News. Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, she is a second year student at Grace Hopper College, majoring in neuroscience and participating in the Global Health Studies Program.

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