NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The World Health Organization says moving forward in the COVID-19 pandemic, comprehensive research and innovative effort need to be at the core of pandemic response, and that research includes autopsies.

On Thursday, the United States marked one million American lives lost to COVID-19.

Nationally, health experts are studying acute and long haul COVID. In New Haven, Yale is involved in testing and clinical care. At the worst of the pandemic, morgues filled with bodies as it was a struggle to bury loved ones.

Dr. Harold Sanchez, a pathologist for Yale Medicine and an assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine said autopsies performed at hospitals and medical examiner’s offices are an important part of the research efforts.

“Autopsies on most people who die of the disease, those provide a lot of really valuable information,” Sanchez said. “How severe the disease is, what organs are affected, what the mechanism of the disease is.
Does the virus cause injury by itself? A million deaths in the United States is a horrible milestone, but in the absence of the vaccine, it would have been much worse. There are all kinds of studies, and they’re hard to do but hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved.”

Sanchez said the people who consented to allow autopsies on their deceased loved ones have done an enormous public service by providing helpful information. He made it a point to thank all essential workers, inside and outside the hospitals, especially those who work with him at Autopsy Service.