COVID-19 Identified from Fecal Material Suggests Hidden Risks


Lin Qiu

Both the team of Dr. Nanshan Zhong and the team of Dr. Lanjuan Li recently isolated Wuhan coronavirus, dubbed COVID-19, from the fecal material of COVID-19 inflicted patients, which revealed new ways that the virus spreads.

During the Guangdong Epidemic Prevention and Control press conference, Prof. Zhao Jincun, an expert from Dr. Nanshan Zhong’s team, introduced the experimental discovery.

The team of scientists and medical professionals isolated a new type of coronavirus from the loose stool specimen of a patient with coronary pneumonia. The sample was provided by the Fifth Hospital Affiliated to Sun Yat-sen University of Zhuhai.

In laboratory, scientists inoculated the sample through various cell lines and eventually isolated a coronavirus strain from Vero E6 cells.

Concurrently, the team of Dr. Li Lanjuan from the State Key Laboratory of Infectious Disease Diagnosis and Treatment of Zhejiang University also isolated the virus from patients’ stool samples. Professor Wu Nanping from the laboratory explained the process. The researchers isolated 3 positive coronaviruses from 5 fecal samples and observed obvious lesions in the isolated cells. Re-isolation of the specimen also confirmed the presence of the virus.

The research (conducted by the two teams) proves the presence of coronavirus in diarrhea, yet this only reveals a new source of infection, which does not confirm the potential gastrointestinal transmission of the coronavirus, said Dr. Zhao Wei, a professor from Southern Medical University.

Prof. Zhao participated in the fight against SARS in 2003. He told reporters that during the SARS period, SARS virus was also detected in the sewer pipes of Amoy Gardens in Hong Kong, but there has been no confirmation as to whether there is a fecal-oral transmission tract for SARS.

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