Next time you have diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, run a COVID test.
A new study by King’s College London has revealed severe Covid-19 infection has an adverse effect on the patient’s gut health.
While severe Covid-19 leads to breathing problems and high fever, some patients can experience diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, which suggests the involvement of the gastrointestinal tract.
The research, published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology, looked at samples of the gastrointestinal tract from patients who died after being diagnosed with Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic.
They found that the system that would normally regulate the composition of the microbial communities – otherwise known as Peyer’s Patches – were severely disrupted in severe Covid-19, irrespective of whether there was evidence of virus present in the gut or not.
This included depletion of the germinal centers, which normally propagate antibody-producing cells, in patients who died with Covid-19.
This resulting poor local immunity could lead to a reduction in microbial diversity, known as dysbiosis.
“This study shows that in severe Covid-19, this key component of the immune system is disrupted, whether the intestine itself is infected with SARS-CoV-2 or not,” said Professor Jo Spencer, from King’s College London.
“This would likely contribute to the disturbances in intestinal microbial populations in Covid-19 reported by others,” he added.
Researchers said the findings suggest that oral vaccination may not be effective if the patient is already ill, as the gut immune system is already compromised.
“In the future, it will be important to understand factors driving such lymphoid tissue dysregulation in severe inflammatory responses,” said Spencer.
Studies have earlier also found that Covid-19 patients have an active and prolonged gut viral infection, even in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms.