Efficacy of probiotic treatment as post-exposure prophylaxis for COVID-19: A double-blind, Placebo-Controlled Randomized trial.

Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland). 2024;43(1):259-267
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The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus infection, continues to pose a unique and novel challenge to global health. Ongoing research is showing a potentially significant role of the microbiome and dysbiosis in COVID-19 disease severity and development of Long-Covid. The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of the probiotic Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) as post-exposure prophylaxis against COVID-19. This study was a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Participants were randomised to receive LGG or placebo in a 1:1 ratio. Results showed that the participants randomised to LGG had fewer symptoms and prolonged time to development of COVID-19 compared to those receiving placebo. Additionally, probiotic supplementation also reduced symptomatic disease, and changed the gut microbiome structure. Authors conclude that their findings lend credence to the notion that symbiotic microbes may be valuable partners in the fight against COVID-19 and potentially other future pandemic diseases.


BACKGROUND & AIMS The COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose unprecedented challenges to worldwide health. While vaccines are effective, additional strategies to mitigate the spread/severity of COVID-19 continue to be needed. Emerging evidence suggests susceptibility to respiratory tract infections in healthy subjects can be reduced by probiotic interventions; thus, probiotics may be a low-risk, low-cost, and easily implementable modality to reduce risk of COVID-19. METHODS In this initial study, we conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial across the United States testing probiotic Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) as postexposure prophylaxis for COVID-19 in 182 participants who had household exposure to someone with confirmed COVID-19 diagnosed within ≤7 days. Participants were randomized to receive oral LGG or placebo for 28 days. The primary outcome was development of illness symptoms within 28 days of COVID-19 exposure. Stool was collected to evaluate microbiome changes. RESULTS Intention-to-treat analysis showed LGG treatment led to a lower likelihood of developing illness symptoms versus placebo (26.4 % vs. 42.9 %, p = 0.02). Further, LGG was associated with a statistically significant reduction in COVID-19 diagnosis (log rank, p = 0.049) via time-to-event analysis. Overall incidence of COVID-19 diagnosis did not significantly differ between LGG and placebo groups (8.8 % vs. 15.4 %, p = 0.17). CONCLUSIONS This data suggests LGG is associated with prolonged time to COVID-19 infection, reduced incidence of illness symptoms, and gut microbiome changes when used as prophylaxis ≤7 days post-COVID-19 exposure, but not overall incidence. This initial work may inform future COVID-19 prevention studies worldwide, particularly in developing nations where Lacticaseibacillus probiotics have previously been utilized to reduce other non-COVID infectious-morbidity. TRIAL REGISTRATION ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04399252, Date: 22/05/2020. https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04399252.

Lifestyle medicine

Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Probiotics
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients ; Microorganisms
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Stool
Bioactive Substances : Probiotics

Methodological quality

Jadad score : 5
Allocation concealment : Yes


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Probiotics ; Supplements ; Microbiome ; Microbiota