Blood Type O Might Protect You Against COVID-19, Large-Scale Study Reveals
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Can blood type lower the risk of coronavirus infection?
With the novel coronavirus still running amok, researchers and clinicians all over the world are in a race against time, trying to gather as much information as possible to prevent the spread and come up with a treatment for COVID-19.
One thing that has disconcerted scientists and health experts ever since the outbreak started was why some patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 developed mild or moderate symptoms or were asymptomatic while others displayed severe, even life-threatening symptoms?
Various studies in China, Italy and Spain previously suggested that genetics might have an important role in all of this. The latest discovery also points in that direction, indicating that there might be a connection between people’s blood type and the risk for coronavirus infection. According to a study conducted by US-based personal genomics and biotechnology company 23andMe, individuals with blood type O are less susceptible to getting COVID-19.
23andMe is mostly known for its home DNA testing kits. In April, the company decided to lend a helping hand in finding out more about the virus and announced its intentions to conduct a massive genetic study based on data from its customers who agreed to take part in the research.
Approximately a month later, 23andMe informed that it was opening the research to people who had been hospitalized with severe COVID-19, who were not listed in their data bank. “Opening up the research to individuals with more severe symptoms will increase our power to learn how genes play a role in the severity of this disease,” said Joyce Tung, PhD, 23andMe’s Vice President of Research.
Preliminary study results – Is blood type O more protective against coronavirus?
23andMe has recently made its preliminary findings public. After analyzing the data from more than 750,000 participants and “comparing the research participants who reported that they tested positive for COVID-19 to those who tested negative, our researchers identified a variant in the ABO gene associated with a lower risk,” the company explained.
There are four main blood types — A, B, AB and O. According to the large-scale survey:
- Blood type O appears to fight back against the virus, compared to all other blood types.
- People with blood type O are 9-18% percent less likely to test positive for COVID-19, compared to people with other blood types.
- When adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, ethnicity, and co-morbidities, there were not many differences identified between individuals within groups A, B, and AB.
- Among those exposed to the virus, such as health care professionals, essential workers, 23andMe discovered that blood type O seems to be protective against the coronavirus.
According to the company’s press release, “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.”
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