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What you need to know about your blood type and your risk of COVID-19



The blood group does not have much influence in our daily life. In fact, most people don’t even know if they’re Type A, B, AB, or O. But the seemingly mundane detail could be a factor in who falls under the thumbs of the 2020 global tyrant – that is. Coronavirus.

A new study in the journal Blood advances confirms what researchers have seen for some time: people with type A blood are at a much higher risk of developing COVID-19, while people with type O appear to be better protected from it, according to a growing body of research.

Researchers in China shared the idea back in March, and the results were confirmed by a Columbia University article a month later. Even DNA testing company 23andMe reached out to its customers and found that among 750,000 people (by far the largest study population to date) diagnosed with COVID-1

9 and hospitalized, those with Type O were better protected.

Then there was a study in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed the idea with a peer-reviewed study: People with type A blood were 45 percent more likely to contract COVID-19 than people with other blood types, while people with type O blood were 35 percent fewer probably.

“It’s pretty clear that Type O is protective to some extent. I don’t think Type A or Type B is the problem – it’s just that they don’t have Type O,” says Mark Udden, MD, Professor of Hematology and Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

Are people with type A blood more likely to die of COVID-19?

So people with type A are more likely to get infected with the virus, but whether they make it worse is still unclear: the NEJM Study reports suggest that people with type A blood are also more likely to experience respiratory failure.

However, Columbia University research found that there was no real difference between intubation or death and different blood types. And a recently published study in the Annals of Hematology specifically examined the association between blood types and the need for intubation or death in confirmed COVID-19 patients. They found no association between blood type and the severity of the disease. The new research in Blood advances, mentioned above, had similar results. While this is in line with the endless questions this new disease raises, another, smaller study is also in Blood advancessuggested that blood types A or AB had a higher risk of certain intensive interventions and prolonged stays in the intensive care unit, but the researchers themselves considered the link to be “unsolved”.

What is different about Type O?

We don’t know why people with Type O might be better protected – but there are many theories.

The most basic idea is that blood type could affect a person’s ability to fight the virus, says Dr. David Aronoff, director of the Infectious Disease Division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. This can affect the strength of your immune system or your inflammatory response to the infection.

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Either way, it would affect the chances of not only getting the virus, but how severe your symptoms are, he explains.

The NEJM However, the paper highlights the antibodies we produce depending on the blood type. “If you’re Type O, you’re naturally making antibodies to Type A and Type B,” says Dr. Udden. These type A antibodies could make it difficult for SARS-CoV-2 to bind to its receptor in type O blood and multiply in the body, he explains.

A potential protective element in Type O blood has another interesting layer: the so-called von Willebrand factor, a glycoprotein that is responsible for repairing damage to blood vessels by causing your blood to clot.

We know the COVID-19 virus damages the lining of your blood vessels. Your body then releases von Willebrand factor (VWF) into your blood to repair the damage to the vessel walls. But VWF also promotes coagulation.

“COVID-19 patients who die have abnormal clotting problems like strokes, kidney failure, and pulmonary embolism. So we know there is a clotting problem that stems from the virus,” says Dr. Udden.

A current analysis in The lancet found that compared to COVID-19 patients who were not in the intensive care unit, those who were critically ill and died in the intensive care unit had higher levels of VWF antigens in their blood.

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And guess what: People with type A blood naturally have higher VWF levels than people with type O blood, emphasizes Dr. Udden. In addition, people who are black and who die at a disproportionately high rate from COVID-19 also tend to have higher VWF levels.

So if I’m O, am I safe from the coronavirus?

Just because you’re Type O doesn’t mean you know. All previous studies have only looked at blood type in connection with symptomatic cases of coronavirus, emphasizes Dr. Aronoff.

We don’t know about asymptomatic carriers – that is, Type O could still unwittingly pass the virus on to other people, just like Type A.

“There are two options: You are Type O so you may not get the virus because it doesn’t have a runway – there is nothing to attach yourself to,” explains Dr. Udden. “Or as Type O, the virus invades, but the A antibody prevents it from docking with enough cells to cause disease. But the virus is still in your system and you can still pass it on to someone else . “

Is the blood type the main risk factor?

No. Blood type is actually a pretty weak player, says Dr. Udden.

Socioeconomic status is a major security gap – likely having to work outside of the home, in crowded buildings, and in tighter spaces with more family members.

Age and health come next in terms of susceptibility. If you’re older or have an underlying medical condition like cancer, diabetes, or heart disease, you’re more likely to develop a severe case of coronavirus, adds Dr. Udden added.

The blood type is after all of these.

The bottom line on blood type and COVID-19 risk

People with type O blood may be a little better protected from the virus, and people with type A blood are a little more susceptible. But as far as we know, anyone is still at risk of contracting the virus, and definitely risk of being an asymptomatic carrier – and therefore passing it on to others.

Discovering the protective effects of Type O is crucial to gaining an understanding of how the virus works – especially given that there aren’t many other patterns that it follows, emphasizes Dr. Udden.

However, both documents agree that this should not change anyone’s behavior.

“I’m Type O, and I’m not just going to hang out in bars because of this light protective effect,” says Dr. Udden.

“These results shouldn’t change your behavior. Anyone can still get SARS-CoV-2 and / or participate in the chain of transmission, ”adds Dr. Aronoff added.

The bottom line is clear: the safest and most effective way to prevent coronavirus from happening or unwittingly spreading it to others is to keep wearing a mask and socially distance yourself from people – regardless of your blood type.

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