While researchers worldwide race to better understand COVID-19 and why some people become severely ill from the virus while others experience mild or absent symptoms, a study of coronavirus patients in Italy and Spain has discovered a link between blood type and protection against SARS-CoV-2.
According to a recent Chemical & Engineering News post, a genetic study of over 1,600 coronavirus patients found that people with type A blood were at a greater risk for developing severe respiratory failure compared with O type patients. Researchers believe that because people with type O blood have lower levels of proteins that promote blood clotting, patients with O type blood may experience less inflammation and lung damage resulting from an overreaction of the immune system known as a cytokine storm. Having A type blood was associated with a 50 percent increase in the chances of a patient with COVID-19 requiring oxygen or intubation.
Research also suggests that because people with type O blood develop antibodies for both A and B sugar antigens, they will have the antibodies to fight the virus transmitted by a person with type A or B blood. A person with type A blood however will have only developed antibodies for B antigens and if virus particles from a type A person spread to another type A, they will not have developed the antibodies. Researchers expect that the immune system of people with type B blood will behave similarly to those with type A blood.
Having type O blood may offer some protection against COVID-19 but it is no reason to stop practicing social distancing, hand washing, or wearing a face mask in close spaces with others. Although type O blood is more common among African Americans, this group has also experienced high infection rates suggesting the protective benefits of having type O blood could be small compared with other factors such as underlying chronic health conditions.
For updated guidelines on what safety measures to take while interacting with others if you are considering venturing out, follow this link to the Centers for Disease Control website.