SARS-CoV-2 has become one of the most studied viruses of the last century. It was assumed that the only possible host for these types of viruses was mammalian eukaryotic cells. Our recent studies show that microorganisms in the human gastrointestinal tract affect the severity of COVID-19 and for the first time provide indications that the virus might replicate in gut bacteria. In order to further support these findings, in the present work, cultures of bacteria from the human microbiome and SARS-CoV-2 were analyzed by electron and fluorescence microscopy. The images presented in this article, in association with the nitrogen (15N) isotope-labeled culture medium experiment, suggest that SARS-CoV-2 could also infect bacteria in the gut microbiota, indicating that SARS-CoV-2 could act as a bacteriophage. Our results add new knowledge to the understanding of the mechanisms of SARS-CoV-2 infection and fill gaps in the study of the interactions between SARS-CoV-2 and non-mammalian cells. These findings could be useful in suggesting specific new pharmacological solutions to support the vaccination campaign.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2; Sabin vaccine; bacteriophage; electron microscope; human microbiota; mucosal immunity.