A possible link between blood type and COVID-19

Published: Aug. 31, 2020 at 10:48 AM EDT
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Research on the novel coronavirus has already determined that men, people of color, and those with underlying medical conditions are at greater risk of getting severe COVID-19. But now can your blood type also be a factor?

As the most recent spike in COVID-19 cases plagues the world, researchers wonder why COVID-19 hits some people harder than others.

Brian Rini, MD, Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University said, “Male, older age, things like that, not surprisingly,” are high-risk factors.

But what about your blood type? In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, scientists performed a genetic analysis on people who currently had COVID-19 and those who did not. They found that people with Type A blood had a 50 percent greater risk of needing oxygen support or a ventilator if they were to contract COVID-19. While people with Type O blood had a 50 percent reduced risk of having severe COVID-19. But the link of blood type to illness is not new.

“Different blood types have different antigens on the surface of the red blood cells,” Dr. Rini continued.

Making certain blood types more susceptible to illness, such as cholera, recurrent urinary tract infections, and a bug that can cause ulcers and stomach cancer. More research is needed to see the further implications from this finding, but for right now it provides scientists more information to fight this novel virus.

Some explanation as to why Type O blood has a reduced risk of severe COVID-19 might be people with Type O are better able to recognize certain proteins as foreign, and then fight them off better, including proteins on virus surfaces.

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