People with blood type O are less likely to get COVID-19, says new study
Could your blood type help protect you from coronavirus? Find out here...
A new study of 75,000 people has suggested that having a certain blood type may help protect you against the novel coronavirus. So far, no vaccine has been found to beat the highly-contagious virus which has infected more than 7.2 million people worldwide, including more than 411,000 deaths.
Researchers at genetic testing company 23andMe in the US found that people with type O blood were up to 18 per cent less likely to test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Additionally, those who had the blood type, and had been exposed, were up to 26 per cent less likely to contract coronavirus.
The team says this indicates a link between the genes that determined blood type and the virus.
For the study, the team recruited more than 750,000 participants, including 10,000 who reported having COVID-19.
Individuals with type O blood were between nine and 18 per cent less likely than those with other blood types to test positive, the Daily Mail reported citing 23andMe. About 1.3 per cent of 23andMe research participants with type O blood tested positive for COVID-19.
By comparison, 1.4 per cent of those with type A blood and 1.5 per cent of people with type B or type AB blood were confirmed to have the virus.
People with O-type blood who had been exposed to the virus, such as frontline health workers, were between 13 and 26 per cent less likely to test positive. Among those exposed, 3.2 per cent with type O blood tested positive compared to 3.9 per cent of people with type A blood, four per cent with type B blood and 4.1 per cent with type AB blood.
The findings are yet to be peer reviewed or published in a medical journal. Researchers identified a variant in the ABO gene, responsible for difference blood types, that was associated with a lower risk.
According to a statement on the 23andMe blog: "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."
An earlier study in March found that people in blood group A had a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to people in non-A blood groups. Comparatively, those in blood group O had a lower risk of catching the infection than people in non-O blood groups.
Also, a joint-preprint from a group of Italian and Spanish researchers also found a higher risk of illness among A-positive people and a protective effect for people with blood type.
Another, from Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, found that people with A-positive and A-negative blood were 33 per cent more likely to test positive than other blood types.
Meanwhile, both O-negative and O-positive blood types were less likely to fall ill with coronavirus than other blood groups.
'COVID-19 PANDEMIC ISN'T OVER YET'
Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci has issued a grim assessment of the coronavirus pandemic, calling the health crisis his "worst nightmare" and insisting the fight against its spread is far from over.
"It isn’t over yet... In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world. That’s millions and millions of infections worldwide. And it’s condensed in a very, very small time frame,” said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US.
Fauci said that still so little is known about the virus, how it can be contracted or spread and the specific impact it may have on the human body.
He said the coronavirus is far more complicated than HIV – a disease he has dedicated his career studying – because of its varying degrees of severity, ranging from asymptomatic carriers to patients who develop fatal conditions.
But, despite admitting he was surprised by how fast the virus had spread, he said he was confident a vaccine would be found.