The Link Between Blood Type and COVID-19


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — 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.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor. 


REPORT #2769

BACKGROUND: Many people have no clue as to their blood type. And, those that do, may not even realize that their blood type might make them more prone to certain medical conditions. Blood type is a way to categorize your blood according to what’s in it: antigens, including the Rhesus, or Rh, factor. Based on the type of antigen, your blood will be categorized as Type A, Type B, Type AB, or Type O. “When antigens come in contact with substances that are unfamiliar to your body, such as certain bacteria, they trigger a response from your immune system,” explained Douglas Guggenheim, MD, a physician at the Abramson Cancer Center Cherry Hill. Blood type is passed down to you from your parents. The purpose of blood typing is to know who you can safely donate blood to or receive blood from. But your blood type may also put you at risk for certain medical conditions.


COVID-19 AND GENES: A new study suggests that a reason behind respiratory failure occurring in people with COVID-19 who are young and healthy may be found in the genes that each one carries. A genome-wide association (GWAS) study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that gene variants in two regions of the human genome are associated with severe COVID-19 and carry a greater risk of COVID-19 related death. There are two stretches of DNA known to carry genes that determine blood type and others that play various roles in the immune system. The findings suggest that people with blood type A face a 50% greater risk of needing oxygen support or a ventilator should they become infected. In search of gene variants that might play a role in the severe illness, the team analyzed patient genome data for more than 8.5 million so-called single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. The analysis identified two places that turned up more often in the individuals with severe COVID-19 than in the healthy folks. One of them is found on chromosome 3 and covers a cluster of six genes and the other is on chromosome 9, right over the area of the genome that determines blood type. The hope of this study is that a genetic test and a person’s blood type might provide useful tools for identifying those who may be at greater risk.


BREAKTHROUGH DRUG FOR COVID-19?: Scientists in Britain announced the drug, dexamethasone, a widely available steroid, may be the first drug to reduce deaths among critically ill COVID-19 patients. However, it may be risky for patients with milder illness, so the timing of treatment is critical. The drug was tested in a clinical trial that included 6,425 patients in Britain. The drug was beneficial for those who had been sick for more than a week, reducing deaths by one-third among patients on mechanical ventilators and by one-fifth among patients receiving supplemental oxygen. Patients given the steroid who were not receiving respiratory support, however, died at a slightly higher rate than similar patients who were not given the drug. Doctors have worried about using steroids because they are anti-inflammatory drugs that dampen the body’s protective immune response. “In mildly ill patients, that may do more harm than good,” said Dr. Martin J. Landray, the study’s senior author and a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Oxford University. “In the early phase of the illness, the immune system is your friend. It’s fighting the virus, and dampening it is not a good idea. In the later phase, the immune system is no longer your friend. It’s responsible for the lungs failing and dampening it down with steroids helps the situation and improves the chance of survival,” said Dr. Landray.


* For More Information, Contact:

Brian Rini, MD                                                                        Craig Boerner, Media Relations                                                     


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