Health experts fear tropical nations could be harder hit by the COVID-19 pandemic due to the higher prevalence of parasitic infections.
Intestinal worms are known to affect the body’s immune response to similar viruses, adding to health fears as COVID-19 spreads into health resource-poor regions such as Africa, Latin America and the Pacific.
Patients with parasitic worms during the SARS and MERS virus outbreaks were more likely to have severe cases, but the COVID-19 response is still unknown.
Federation University Australia senior lecturer Richard Bradley says urgent research is needed.
“We already know that parasitic worms alter your immune response, they change the pathways which your immune system uses to combat other infections,” Dr Bradbury said.
With early outbreaks of COVID-19 largely occurring across middle- and high-income nations, researchers fear more deadly consequences as the virus spreads to poorer nations already struggling with higher burdens of disease.
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