Gut microbiota in the time of COVID-19 | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, July 19, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, July 19, 2020

Gut microbiota in the time of COVID-19

The presence of microorganisms in the gut are known as gut microflora/microbiota. The gut microbiota consists of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Several factors modify gut microflora like food habits, age, genetics and the use of antibiotics. Long-term use of antibiotics lower the good gut microorganisms and increase the transfer of antibiotic-resistant genes among various species of bacteria in the gut. 

 Healthy gut microbiota is an indication of a healthy body and vice-versa. Recently, several studies have shown interactions between gut microbiota and lungs and known as "gut-lung axis." These interactions are two-ways, implicating that microbial metabolites can travel to the lung through blood; alternatively, the inflammation in the lung can affect the gut microbiota. The interactions create an exciting possibility that gut microflora might be disrupted because of COVID-19. Besides, about 10% of the time, COVID-19 patients showed abnormal gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhoea. Furthermore, SARS-CoV-2 viruses also isolated from the faeces of the patients. Researchers have found that COVID-19 patients have less diversified gut microbiota compared to a healthy person. 

 The number of beneficient microbiota in the gut can be increased by taking probiotics. Probiotics are made of good living microorganisms that are commonly present in our body. Yoghurt is the most available source of probiotics. In case of COVID-19, good microbes in the gut become fewer and pathogenic microorganisms become more in number. Therefore, in any infection like COVID-19, in addition to medications, probiotics will help us to eliminate excessive harmful bacteria and will help us to maintain the balance of the body.

The writer is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, North South University, Bangladesh. E-mail:


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