Case letter explores fecal microbiota transplantation for COVID-19 infection

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Fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) could be a potential treatment option for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to a research letter published in the journal Gut.

Researchers from Imperial College London and the Medical University of Warsaw explored the use of FMT to treat COVID-19, after using the procedure in two patients with another bacterial infection. Both patients were infected with Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) and happened to have COVID-19, the symptoms of which cleared up rapidly after the stool transplant. Furthermore, while SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may be detectable in stool for prolonged periods after the infection, the researchers found that the virus was no longer detectable within stool after a shorter period than is typically found.

FMT aims to restore a healthy range of microbes in the gut to boost the body’s immune response. The researchers described using the procedure primarily to treat recurrent C. difficile infection in two people, before initial symptoms of coexisting COVID-19 appeared.

The stool samples used for the transplant had been tested for SARS-CoV-2, as were both patients on admission. All the tests came back negative, according to the study. Additionally, while both patients had risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection, they experienced only mild disease.

The researchers said the patients represent only two cases, making it impossible to draw definitive conclusions about FMT use for COVID-19. However, the researchers said other studies point to similar findings, so further research may be warranted.

“These data lets us speculate that gut microbiome manipulation may merit further exploration as an immunomodulatory strategy in COVID-19,” the authors said in a statement.

Editor's note: Click here for more information and ongoing COVID-19 updates for integrative healthcare professionals.