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Bacteriophages and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)


Marcin W. Wojewodzic

Bacteriophages Could Be a Potential Game Changer in the Trajectory of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)


PHAGE, 2020, 1 (2): 60-65. http://doi.org/10.1089/phage.2020.0014



The pandemic of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) has caused the death of at least 270,000 people as of the 8th of May 2020. This work stresses the potential role of bacteriophages to decrease the mortality rate of patients infected by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. The indirect cause of mortality in Covid-19 is miscommunication between the innate and adaptive immune systems, resulting in a failure to produce effective antibodies against the virus on time.

Although further research is urgently needed, secondary bacterial infections in the respiratory system could potentially contribute to the high mortality rate observed among the elderly due to Covid-19. If bacterial growth, together with delayed production of antibodies, is a significant contributing factor to Covid-19's mortality rate, then the additional time needed for the human body's adaptive immune system to produce specific antibodies could be gained by reducing the bacterial growth rate in the respiratory system of a patient. Independently of that, the administration of synthetic antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 viruses could potentially decrease the viral load.

The decrease of bacterial growth and the covalent binding of synthetic antibodies to viruses should further diminish the production of inflammatory fluids in the lungs of patients (the indirect cause of death). Although the first goal could potentially be achieved by antibiotics, I argue that other methods may be more effective or could be used together with antibiotics to decrease the growth rate of bacteria, and that respective clinical trials should be launched.

Both goals can be achieved by bacteriophages. The bacterial growth rate could potentially be reduced by the aerosol application of natural bacteriophages that prey on the main species of bacteria known to cause respiratory failure and should be harmless to a patient. Independently of that, synthetically changed bacteriophages could be used to quickly manufacture specific antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. This can be done via a Nobel Prize awarded technique called “phage display.” If it works, the patient is given extra time to produce their own specific antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus and stop the damage caused by an excessive immunological reaction.