The microscopic organisms living in our intestines may influence the severity of COVID-19 and the body's immune response to it, and could account for lingering symptoms, researchers reported on Monday in the journal Gut.
They found that the gut microorganisms in COVID-19 patients were very different from those in uninfected individuals. "COVID patients lack certain good bacteria known to regulate our immune system," said Dr. Siew Ng of The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
The presence of an abnormal assortment of gut bacteria, or "dysbiosis," persists after the virus is gone and could play a role in the long-lasting symptoms that plague some patients, she said. Her team has developed an oral formula of live bacteria known as probiotics and a special capsule to protect the organisms until they reach the gut.
"Compared with patients on standard care, our pilot clinical study showed that more COVID patients who received our microbiome immunity formula achieved complete symptom resolution," Ng said, adding that those who got it had significantly reduced markers for inflammation in their blood, increased favorable bacteria in their stool and they developed neutralizing antibodies to the virus.