A new study published in Cell suggests that the digestive tract may yet be another target of the Wuhan coronavirus, after previous data released in the last few months found that it can also attack the endocrine system, reproductive system, and brain, potentially triggering diabetes, infertility, and intellectual disability in those areas, respectively.
This latest finding also suggests that the digestive tract may serve as a reservoir for the virus, from which the immune system find it difficult to purge, with 4% of those infected still shedding the virus in their waste ten full months after initial infection.
A much larger group, 12.7%, were still shedding the virus in their waste after four months, suggesting that the digestive tract may be the source of many so-called “long COVID” infections in which symptoms linger even after the host appears virus-free on blood tests.
The pre-proof study out of Stanford also suggests that because the GI tract is so closely tied to the immune system, inflammatory or autoimmune responses to the lingering virus may also serve as the culprit so persistent symptoms.
They present this study as suggestive that COVID does also infect intestinal cells in vivo, explaining gastrological symptoms, and potentially offering an explanation for the long-lasting persistence of symptoms in many.