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Japanese study links COVID-19 mortality rates with gut flora

Study hypothesizes Collinsella plays role in preventing COVID infection, ameliorate acute respiratory issues

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A woman wearing face mask to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walks at a traditional Japanese garden in Tokyo, Jan. 7, 2022.

A woman wearing face mask to protect against the spread of the coronavirus walks at a traditional Japanese garden in Tokyo, Jan. 7, 2022. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Japanese scientists have postulated that gut microbiota could be associated with COVID-19 mortality rates.

In a study published in the science journal PLOS One, a Japanese team involving researchers from Nagoya University Graduate School of Medicine and other Japanese institutes suggested that intestinal Collinsella may mitigate exacerbation of COVID infections and thus bring down fatality rates.

The scientists looked at the gut flora of a total of 953 healthy subjects from ten countries obtained through public databases and analyzed the relationship between their intestinal bacteria and the COVID-19-induced mortality rates in the countries. These are South Korea, Japan, Finland, Canada, Germany, Mexico, the U.S., the U.K, Italy, and Belgium.

They discovered a negative correlation between the genus Collinsella and COVID deaths. This could be attributed to the bacteria’s ability to produce ursodeoxycholate, which had been found to inhibit the binding of the virus and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), the main entry point into cells for certain coronaviruses.

With data collected by February 2021, the study found that South Korea, Japan, and Finland have more people with Collinsella, accounting for 34% to 61%, and lower COVID mortality rates. On the contrary, Mexico, Italy, the U.S., the U.K, and Belgium, which comprise only 4% to 18% of populations with Collinsella, showed higher death rates from the pandemic.


Updated : 2022-05-25 18:04 GMT+08:00