Intestinal parasites may hold the secret to preventing severe COVID infection.

Could parasitic worms hold the key to mitigating COVID-19 severity? That’s the intriguing question emerging from new research by scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

During the pandemic, public health experts noticed an unexpected trend. “Countries throughout Africa and Asia were reporting fewer cases of severe infections, such as hospitalizations or death, much less than the rest of the world,” postdoctoral research fellow and study coauthor Kerry Hilligan said in a press statement. She highlighted the correlation between these regions and the endemic presence of hookworm infections.

Intrigued, NIAID researchers decided to investigate further. They followed up on a small hospital study in Ethiopia that found COVID-19 patients co-infected with parasitic helminth worms had a significantly lower risk of severe symptoms.

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