blood types
Photo by Senior Airman Xiomara M. Martinez

Are Some People More Likely to get Coronavirus on the Basis of their Blood Type?

Blood type usually makes little to no difference in a person’s daily life except in the case of blood transfusion. However, there are some studies suggesting that coronavirus affects people based on their blood type. One study in particular states that people with Type A blood are more likely to catch coronavirus and that people with Type O blood have less risk of getting infected.

What is a blood type and how is it determined? Blood is made of white blood cells, red blood cells, and plasma. There are 4 main blood types which are A, B, AB, and O, each blood type can be RhD positive or RhD negative so it means there are 8 blood types. A blood type is determined by the absence or presence of specific antigens on the surface of blood cells. Antigens are proteins present on the surface of cells including blood cells.

Why are their different blood types and what is their purpose is still a mystery and there is very little information about their links to diseases and viruses. Understanding what role blood types play will help scientists to analyze the risk of infection people with different blood types face.

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Two pieces of research were carried out by researchers to find a link between blood types and the risk of coronavirus, one was at Columbia Presbyterian hospital in New York and the other at Massachusetts General Hospital. The studies did not find any evidence to suggest that Type A blood people are more likely to get infected. However, there was some evidence suggesting that Type O blood people are less likely to get covid19. According to Nicholas Tatonetti, a scientist at Columbia University people should not count on it and no one should think that they are immune to the virus.

Dr. Tatonetti and a graduate student Michael Zietz reviewed medical records of 7770 people who were tested positive for covid19. They found that Type A blood people were at a little lower risk of being put on ventilators while type AB people were at a higher risk, but the scientists believe that there were very few type AB patients so this result might not be reliable.

The other study conducted at Massachusetts General hospital found something different. According to their research, Type O people were less likely to get infected with coronavirus, but there was no link between blood type and people dying or being placed on ventilators. Joern Bullerdiek, director of the Institute for Medical Genetics at University Medicine Rostock in Germany, said that with this new study it is probably clear that blood groups are not linked with the severity of the disease.

Zietz believed that there’s some evidence that different blood types have different risks of clotting. Covid19 was initially treated by doctors as a flu-like disease damaging the lungs but it has been found that the virus can cause a number of small blood clots. According to Dr. Tatonetti as more and more people are getting infected there will be an opportunity for the researchers to study the link.

Sakthivel Vaiyapuri who is an associate professor at the University of Reading in the UK said that people with Type O blood should not relax and people with type A blood should not be worried. Vaiyapuri is carrying out research, in collaboration with a University in Iraq, into the role of blood types involving 4000 people who are infected and 4000 people who were not. The early results of the study suggested that type O blood people have a protective effect but it’s not definitive.

In any case, the most significant factors are still underlying health issues and age, and type O individuals are not immune to the virus, as they may get infected and also be put on ventilators.