Intestinal bacteria may affect severity of coronavirus, researchers find

Henrietta Brewer
January 14, 2021

Nevertheless, they described the study by Huang and colleagues as "relevant and timely", noting that more than half of the cohort presented with residual chest imaging abnormalities and that disease severity during acute illness was independently associated with extent of lung diffusion at follow-up.

In the study, scientists interviewed the patients face-to-face using questionnaires to evaluate their symptoms and health-related quality of life.

They said longer term multidisciplinary research being conducted in the United States and Britain would help improve understanding and help develop therapies to "mitigate the long-term consequences of COVID-19 on multiple organs and tissues".

Cao Bin, one of the key scientists behind the study, said in an online interview on Saturday that the goal of their research was to raise public awareness about recovery prospects for COVID-19 patients and highlight the need for post-discharge care. The scientists concluded that most of the hospitalised patients faced at least one symptom after getting discharged, which highlights the need for proper post-discharge care.

Anxiety and depression were reported among 23 per cent of the patients.

The team studied samples from 100 patients treated at two Hong Kong hospitals to see how the so-called microbiome in the digestive system might affect recovery from the deadly bug. The discharged patients also went through some physical examinations, lab tests and a six-minute walking test to scale their tolerance levels. From the over 1,700 patients involved, 390 also completed further testing to measure lung function.

In all, 1,733 of 2,469 discharged patients with Covid-19 were enrolled after 736 were excluded.

The scientists said 13% of patients whose kidney function was normal while in hospital had reduced kidney function in follow-up.

According to the study, patients with more severe disease performed worse in the six-minute walking test.

Along with common lung issues typical of coronavirus, the study discovered some patients developed kidney issues following their hospital stay.

Patients with more severe illness commonly had reduced lung function, with 56 % of those who required ventilation support experiencing reduced flow of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream.

Almost 400 patients also underwent further tests, including an assessment of their lung function, and 94 patients whose blood antibody levels were recorded at the height of the infection received a follow-up test. The number of neutralizing antibodies fell by 52.5 percent compared to levels measured while the group dealt with COVID-19. The study also reveals that women have a higher risk of being affected by the virus than men. They also took samples from 78 people without Covid-19 who were taking part in a microbiome study before the pandemic.

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