Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Your Blood Type Could Make You More (or Less) Vulnerable to Coronavirus

Health + Wellness
Your Blood Type Could Make You More (or Less) Vulnerable to Coronavirus
A healthcare worker carries out a blood type test at Novosibirsk Blood Centre in Novosibirsk, Russia on May 22, 2020. Kirill Kukhmar / TASS via Getty Images

As coronavirus cases continue to climb as the world reopens, many scientists are hunting for clues to explain why some infected people get very sick while others experience only mild or no symptoms at all.


Three separate studies suggest that increased risk of contracting the coronavirus and of developing more serious COVID-19 symptoms is tied to blood type. Researchers in all three studies found Type O blood to be more "protective" against COVID-19 susceptibility and severity.

There are four main blood types — A, B, AB and O, explained the Red Cross, and proteins on the surface of your red blood cells determine which type you are.

In a study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, genetic analysis of thousands of COVID-19 patients in Europe suggested a link between blood type and coronavirus risk. The researchers studied more than 1,900 severely ill coronavirus patients in Italy and Spain, comparing them to 2,300 people who were not sick or who only experienced mild symptoms, reported CNN.

People with Type A blood had a 45% higher risk of becoming infected than people with other blood types and of developing "COVID-19 with respiratory failure," compared to people with other blood types, the scientists found, reported Medical Xpress. People with Type O blood had a 35% lower risk of becoming infected and seriously ill as people with other blood types.

Dr. Robert Glatter, a New York City emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, explained how the genes that control blood type also play a role in the makeup of the surface of cells. He said that changes in cell-surface structure due to blood type could influence the vulnerability of the cell to be infected by the new coronavirus, reported Medical Xpress.

Type O blood cells are better able to recognize certain proteins as foreign and dangerous, and that may extend to proteins on virus surfaces, Dr. Parameswaran Hari, a blood specialist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, told KRON4.

Still, the researchers cannot say if blood type is a direct cause of the differences in susceptibility, noting that the genetic changes that affect someone's risk could also just happen to be linked with blood type, reported CNN.

The study doesn't prove the linkage but confirms a prior report from China of the blood type/disease severity connection, KRON4 reported. Hari said that the findings from China, which were the "first observation of an association" between blood type and COVID-19 susceptibility, were "crude" and limited because they studied only 2,173 patients but that the new European study seems to validate those findings. With the new work, "Now I believe it," he said. "It could be very important," reported KRON4.

One additional study from April, spearheaded by genetic testing company 23andMe, similarly found blood Type O to be more "protective" against COVID-19 susceptibility and severity. The company surveyed customers, eliciting 800,000 responses, including 12,000 COVID-19 patients.

"Our preliminary data shows that O is protective not just for susceptibility but also how severe the disease is," Dr. Anjali Shastri, a researcher with 23andMe, told NBC Miami.

Shastri also told NBC Miami that Type O blood remains "protective" even when controlling for race, sex and age, factors that have previously been linked to coronavirus vulnerability.

Scientists in all the studies cautioned that the findings were still preliminary and urged other scientists to see if they find the same links with additional patient verifications, reported KRON4.

Blood type has been tied to susceptibility and severity in other infectious diseases, including, most notably, SARS, a genetic cousin of the coronavirus. During the SARS outbreak, Type O blood also reduced the severity of symptoms, Hari told KRON4. Blood type also affects the severity of cholera, recurrent urinary tract infections from E. coli, and a bug called H. pylori that can cause ulcers and stomach cancer, reported KRON4.

Researchers hope the findings will prove useful for designing drugs or vaccines against coronavirus, reported CNN.

A crowd of climate activists march behind a banner in NYC during Climate Week on September 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Breanna Draxler

After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Presidential nominee Joe Biden has not taken a stance on gas exports, including liquefied natural gas. Ken Hodge / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Simon Montlake

For more than a decade, Susan Jane Brown has been battling to stop a natural gas pipeline and export terminal from being built in the backcountry of Oregon. As an attorney at the nonprofit Western Environmental Law Center, she has repeatedly argued that the project's environmental, social, and health costs are too high.

All that was before this month's deadly wildfires in Oregon shrouded the skies above her home office in Portland. "It puts a fine point on it. These fossil fuel projects are contributing to global climate change," she says.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Eating lots of fruits and vegetables will boost the immune system. Stevens Fremont / The Image Bank / Getty Images

By Grayson Jaggers

The connection between the pandemic and our dietary habits is undeniable. The stress of isolation coupled with a struggling economy has caused many of us to seek comfort with our old friends: Big Mac, Tom Collins, Ben and Jerry. But overindulging in this kind of food and drink might not just be affecting your waistline, but could potentially put you at greater risk of illness by hindering your immune system.

Read More Show Less
A graphic shows how Rhoel Dinglasan's smartphone-based saliva test works. University of Florida

As the world continues to navigate the line between reopening and maintaining safety protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, rapid and accurate diagnostic screening remains critical to control the outbreak. New mobile-phone-based, self-administered COVID-19 tests being developed independently around the world could be a key breakthrough in making testing more widely available, especially in developing nations.

Read More Show Less
A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch