A new study published in the journal Blood Advance suggests that people with blood Type O may be at less risk to coronavirus; and they also have lower risks of worsening conditions if they contract the virus. The new study was published on Wednesday, and the researchers said more research needs to be undertaken.
It has long been suspected by scientists that a person’s blood type has a huge role to play in their vulnerability to certain infections; and also their ability to wade off the severity of the disease once they are down with it; these new studies provide fresh evidence. However, health experts are calling on more research to link the two.
In a study undertaken by Danish researchers, they found out that in about 7,422 people who contracted the coronavirus, only 38.4% were blood Type O, while blood Type A had 44.4%. This was worth looking into by researchers, considering the fact that of the 2.2 million people not tested for the virus, 41.7% had the O blood type, and blood type A made up 42.4%.
Researchers in Canada who undertook a similar study also reported similar results. They found that among patients who had severe bouts of the coronavirus disease, 95% of them had the blood type A or AB, while only blood type O and B only reported 60% of severe illness when down with the virus. The Canadian study also found out the blood type A or B stayed longer in the hospital more than the other blood types – approximately two weeks longer.
Dr. Mypinder Sekhon of the Vancouver General Hospital, who led the Canadian study, said that although the blood type correlation with the coronavirus was provided enough data for researchers to look into, it doesn’t override other factors that might play a role in who gets the coronavirus and just how severe their illness gets. Such other factors listed might include age, co-morbidities, race, use of medications, and other factors.
He, therefore, urged people of the blood type A not to panic while also saying that the study was not a license for people with blood types that are considered low risk to the coronavirus to get careless about COVID-19 safety protocols such as mask-wearing and social distancing.
Dr. Torben Barington of the Odense University Hospital and the University of Southern Denmark, and also a lead author of the Danish study, reiterated Dr. Sekhon’s position on the new research. He said people should not worry about the implications of the new study and what it means for them during this pandemic period, as many other factors that are yet to be understood are at play.
Scientists are yet to understand how blood type mechanism plays a role in wading off infections or reducing their effects in certain blood groups. However, a theory which links blood coagulation and blood type O, and which Dr. Sekhon tends to agree with, might play a role. Blood type O has fewer clotting factors, which experts say drives the severity of COVID-19.
Another theory involves blood group antigens and how they produce antibodies to fight infections. Or even the genes linked to blood types. In all, researchers agree that a lot more work still needs to be done to analyze how blood types affect individual susceptibility to infections in general and not just COVID-19.