COVID-19 patients desperate for oxygen might soon be getting it via an unlikely orifice.

They got the idea from aquatic creatures like sea cucumbers and catfish, which can take in oxygen through their intestines. But before shoving a hose up anyone’s rear, they had to find out whether it could even work in mammals.
First up were mice. Mice subjected to an environment with lethally low levels of oxygen without the ability to breathe through their bums died within minutes, but three-quarters of those with a specially designed “intestinal gas ventilation system” made it almost an hour.
But that system wouldn’t work on people, because it “requires abrasion of the intestinal muscosa” – the crucial layer that protects the rest of our body from whatever gross stuff we’ve consumed that shouldn’t really be there. So the scientists created a liquid version using perfluorochemicals, which seemed to work on pigs.
“Intestinal liquid ventilation reversed skin pallor and coldness and increased their levels of oxygen, without producing obvious side effects,” journal Cell Press said in a statement.
“Taken together, the results show that this strategy is effective in providing oxygen that reaches circulation and alleviates respiratory failure symptoms in two mammalian model systems.”