Does Our Blood Types Determine Vulnerability to Coronavirus?

Blood type is proposed to be linked to COVID-19. (Image:  Pixabay /  CC0 1.0)
Blood type is proposed to be linked to COVID-19. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

There are basically four blood groups among humans – A, B, AB, and O. Many studies have posited that blood groups might affect how vulnerable we are to diseases like cancer. After the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been speculation that people with certain blood types might be more at risk of being infected than others. The scientific community is split on the issue, with some studies claiming that a link between blood groups and COVID-19 exists, while experts warn that such claims should not be taken as absolute truths.

 Blood type and COVID-19

Blood groups were first discovered in 1901. Like other genetic traits, they too are inherited from parents. Your blood type can have some amount of influence on how various diseases affect you. If you belong to blood group O, you will have a lower risk of dying from severe malaria. However, your chances of norovirus infection will be higher. People with blood type B have a lower risk of contracting cancer. Coming to the CCP coronavirus, some studies have shown links between blood types and the infection.

In June, a report published in the New England Journal of Medicine detailed a study that found people with blood type A have a 45 percent higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms. In contrast, those who have blood group O have a lower chance of being infected. The conclusions were reached after studying over 1,900 severely ill COVID-19 patients from Italy and Spain.

People with blood type O should not think that they are somehow more immune to the virus than the rest. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

A study conducted by the Harvard Medical School (HMS) discovered that the blood type of a person is not associated with severe worsening of symptoms in an individual who has already contracted COVID.19. “We showed through a multi-institutional study that there is no reason to believe there is a certain ABO blood type will lead to increased disease severity, which we defined as requiring intubation or leading to death… This evidence should help put to rest previous reports of a possible association between blood type A and a higher risk for COVID-19 infection and mortality,” senior study author Anahita Dua, HMS assistant professor of surgery at Mass General Hospital in Boston, said in a statement.

However, the study did find those symptomatic individuals who had B and AB blood types and were Rh-positive had a higher possibility of testing positive for COVID-19. People with O blood group were found to be less likely to test positive for the virus. So does this mean that blood type O is some “divine protector” and that people who belong to this group should take things easy? Not at all. Dr. Roy Silverstein, chairman of the department of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, warns that such an attitude is foolhardy. He points out that the absolute difference between the various blood groups is so small that it won’t make an actual change of risk. Silverstein says that people with Type O blood should never be made to believe that they have a smaller risk of infection.

COVID-19 risks

It is not just the blood type that might potentially determine the risk of being affected by COVID-19. There are several other factors as well. For instance, your age will play a huge role in how deadly the infections will be. Almost 8 out of every 10 deaths in the U.S. are accounted for by people who are 65 years of age or older. Since elderly people tend to have more chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, they will inevitably be at higher risk of death.

Smokers have a higher chance of critical COVID-19 infection. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

People who have a strong smoking habit are also more prone to COVID-19 infection. A study conducted in China found that almost 12.3 percent of smokers among infected patients ended up in ICU as their condition worsened. In contrast, only 4.7 percent of the nonsmokers were placed into the ICU.

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