In the ongoing mission to understand why some people are more impacted by COVID-19 than others, in the past six months researchers have learned that blood type plays a major role. Several studies have found links between specific blood types and not only the likelihood of contracting the virus, but also risk of death. Now, another study has found that people with a specific blood type might actually get some protection against the highly infectious virus, making them less likely to catch coronavirus.
As part of an ongoing massive study involving more than 750,000 participants, genetic testing company 23andMe claims that early data suggests Type O blood appears to be protective against the virus when compared to other blood types.
You’re Less Likely With Type O
“Preliminary data from 23andMe’s ongoing genetic study of COVID-19 appears to lend more evidence for the importance of a person’s blood type — determined by the ABO gene — in differences in the susceptibility to the virus,” the company revealed in a blog post on Monday.
According to their data, those with O blood type are between 9-18% percent less likely than individuals with other blood types to have tested positive for COVID-19.
“There have also been some reports of links between COVID-19, blood clotting, and cardiovascular disease,” Adam Auton, the study’s lead researcher, added to Bloomberg. “These reports provided some hints about which genes might be relevant.”
Auton does point out that there is still a lot to learn about genetics, blood type, and the virus. “It’s early days; even with these sample sizes, it might not be enough to find genetic associations,” he continued. “We’re not the only group looking at this, and ultimately the scientific community may need to pool their resources to really address questions surrounding the links between genetics and COVID-19.”
Can Determine Susceptibility and Severity
However, their findings are in line with two other recently published studies — one out of China and another from researchers in Italy and Spain — finding that the blood type determining gene, ABO, may determine not only susceptibility to the virus but also the severity of illness. The latter, still in the peer review process, found that those with Type A blood have a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that if infected with the virus, they would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator.