The activity of viral infection and replication will still persist in the gut of COVID-19 patients after recovery, even if they did not have gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, a new study claims.
The Chinese University of Hong Kong made the results of the study public on Monday, saying that researchers from the university's Faculty of Medicine investigated the stool samples of 15 coronavirus patients, aged between 20 and 65, in Hong Kong between February and April.It showed that there was active gut viral infection in seven patients even in the absence of GI symptoms, reports Xinhua.
Three patients continued to display active viral infection up to six days after clearance of the virus from their respiratory samples.
Researchers found that gut microbiota of patients with high SARS-CoV-2 infectivity were characterised by enrichment of pathogens and loss of "good" bacteria that are capable of producing short-chain fatty acid.
"Active and prolonged viral activity in the gut of COVID-19 patients, even in the absence of GI manifestations and after recovery, highlights the importance of long-term coronavirus and health surveillance and the threat of potential faecal-oral viral transmissions," said Siew Chien Ng, associate director of the Center for Gut Microbiota Research at the university.
Therapeutics approaches including limiting gut viral activity and modulating gut microbiome composition and functionality should be explored, she added.
The study result was published in the international medical journal GUT.Meanwhile, the global COVID-19 death toll is approaching 900,000. The latest tally from Johns Hopkins University shows the death count at 891,240 on Tuesday.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases was 27,254,716.
More than 18.24 million people have recovered from the virus infection, according to the latest tally from JHU.