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New studies reveal something strange that could affect your coronavirus risk

Published Oct 16th, 2020 8:01PM EDT
Coronavirus: Blood type
Image: Yakobchuk Olena/Adobe

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  • Two new studies published this week suggest that the risk of being infected with the novel coronavirus might be linked to one’s blood type.
  • One study showed that those with Type O blood were less likely to catch COVID-19, while the other showed that those with Type O blood didn’t get as sick.
  • More research needs to be done, and even if blood type can affect the likelihood of COVID-19 infection and serious illness, it’s not enough to change anyone’s behavior.

We’ve learned a great deal about the novel coronavirus since the pandemic began seven months ago, but there are still countless mysteries left unsolved. Dozens of studies have been published on a weekly basis with viable theories about how contagious the virus is, who is most likely to be infected, how dangerous the virus can be for certain types of people, and so on and so forth. Early on, several of those studies indicated that one’s blood type could impact the severity of the illness, and this week, two more studies backed up that assertion.

As CNN reports, two studies published on Wednesday suggest that people with Type O blood are less likely to catch COVID-19, and might also have a lower chance of becoming gravely ill if they are infected.

The first study, from Denmark, examined data from 473,654 who were tested for COVID-19 from February to July. 7,422 of those tests came back positive, and of those individuals, 38% had Type O blood and 44% had Type A blood. In a much larger data sample of over 2.2 million people in Denmark who were not tested for the virus, 42% had Type O blood and 42% had Type A blood. These results seem to indicate that despite individuals with Type O and Type A blood being evenly split among the general population, Type O is less vulnerable to the virus.

Another study, which looked at 95 critically ill COVID-19 patients hospitalized in Canada, reached similar conclusions. The researchers found that of those 95 ill patients, 84% with Type A or Type AB blood ended up needing mechanical ventilation, compared to 61% of those with Type O or Type B blood.

“As a clinician … it is at the back of my mind when I look at patients and stratify them,” Dr. Mypinder S. Sekhon, an intensive care physician at Vancouver General Hospital and author of the Canadian study, told CNN. “But in terms of a definitive marker, we need repeated findings across many jurisdictions that show the same thing. I don’t think this supersedes other risk factors of severity like age and co-morbities and so forth. If one is blood group A, you don’t need to start panicking. And if you’re blood group O, you’re not free to go to the pubs and bars.”

The two important takeaways here are that there is still far more data required before any definitive conclusions can be drawn from this research, and that even if ABO blood type does play a role in the virus’s ability to infect someone or cause them serious harm, it’s still not enough of a difference to affect pandemic best practices for anyone.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.