One blood type seems to be more resistant against Covid-19

  • US private genetic testing company 23andMe has released some preliminary results from an ongoing Covid-19 study looking for a link between genetics and coronavirus 
  • Their early findings show that type O blood tends to be 9 to 18% less likely to test positive for Covid-19
  • They are currently looking for more Covid-19 positive participants to bolster data

Many factors like age and comorbidities have been studied to help us better understand Covid-19 and people’s susceptibility to its severity – and now your blood type could be another factor that could influence your interaction with the coronavirus.

Private genetic testing company 23andME from the US have released some preliminary data from their ongoing genetic study on Covid-19, which they launched on 6 April. 

It aims to find out if the ABO blood group can play a direct role in infections by serving as a receptor, or coreceptor for microorganisms, parasites, and viruses.

READ: Top WHO official backtracks on comments that asymptomatic spread of Covid-19 virus is 'rare'

From the data of 750 000 participants so far – mostly customers from their existing database – they have gleaned that type O blood appears to be more protective against contracting the virus and severe symptoms than other blood types. 

People with this blood type appear to be 9 to 18% less likely to test positive for Covid-19. They created another sample set limited to only those with high exposure to the virus – like medical practitioners and essential workers – and found those with type O blood to be 13 to 26% less likely to contract the virus.

They add that their data holds even when taking into account other factors like age, sex, body mass index, ethnicity, and comorbidities.

ALSO READ: Are people with blood type A more vulnerable to contracting the new coronavirus?

While one study from Columbia University – which hasn’t been peer-reviewed yet – did demonstrate that only O-positive blood types seem to show resilience to Covid-19. 23andMe’s results don’t indicate any difference between rhesus positive and negative blood types. 

But is any blood type more susceptible to the virus? The preliminary data did show that most people who tested positive had type AB blood, but the difference compared to other blood types was statistically inconsequential. 

There have been more studies focusing on the link between blood types and the coronavirus. A joint limited study from Chinese universities involving 2 173 patients found similar results regarding blood type O, and found that type A blood group was most susceptible. Another study from Europe that looked at Spanish and Italian patients also found blood type O to be more protective, and that A-positive people had a higher risk.

Both studies still need to be peer-reviewed. 

SEE: Covid-19 patients with high blood pressure face higher risk of death, study says

The 23andMe study, however, is still ongoing, and they are currently looking for more US-residing participants outside of their customer database that have tested positive for Covid-19. In return, they will get free access to the company’s genetic reports. 

“The study and recruitment are ongoing, with the hope that we can use our research platform to better understand differences in how people respond to the virus. Ultimately, we hope to publish our research findings in order to provide more insight into Covid-19 for the scientific community.”

Image credit: Pixabay

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