Growing body of evidence suggests that blood type may play a role in the risk of getting infected with the coronavirus or developing life-threatening complications from the disease.
However, this does not mean that a single blood type is more protective or dangerous with respect to Covid-19, and the evidence may actually raise more questions than answers.
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Two studies on the subject were published Wednesday in the journal Blood Advances, a publication of the American Society of Hematology.
In the first case, researchers in Denmark examined data from 473,654 people who were tested for Covid-19 from February to July. Most of the results were negative; Only 7,422 tests were positive.
Blood type, the researchers found, was a major potential difference between the two groups.
“Blood type O is significantly linked to a reduced susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infections,” the study authors wrote, which means that people with type O blood appear to be less likely to become infected. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes Covid-19.
The results of the study are limited as blood type information was only available for 62 percent of the test subjects.
It is also important to note that people with Type O blood can and do become infected.
“The study suggests that with Type O you have a slightly lower risk,” said Dr. Roy Silverstein, Chair of Medicine at Medical College in Wisconsin. “But it’s a small drop,” he said, adding that the blood type doesn’t represent a zero percent risk. Silverstein, who is also a past president of the American Society of Hematology, was not involved in the new studies.
Silverstein pointed out that the new research will not change the way doctors treat Covid-19 patients.
“You will not treat someone who comes to hospital with Type O any differently than Type A,” he said. “The differences are just not that big.”
Still, a second smaller study, also published Wednesday, appears to improve those results. Researchers in Canada examined data on 95 Covid-19 patients in Vancouver from February to April. All were sick enough to be hospitalized in intensive care units.
Again, researchers found differences in blood type. This time, certain types appeared to be associated with worse results.
“A higher proportion of Covid-19 patients with blood group A or AB required mechanical ventilation and had a longer stay in the intensive care unit compared to patients with blood group O or B,” wrote the authors of the study.
Types A and AB were also more likely to need some type of dialysis, which helps the kidneys filter blood without putting too much pressure on the heart.
There are important caveats to be noted in the new research. There is no evidence that any blood type is either completely protective or doomed a patient to serious complications from Covid-19.
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Public health officials say people with any blood type must take the same damage control precautions, such as: B. wearing a mask and maintaining physical distance and effective hand washing. These studies only suggest a connection between blood types and Covid-19 result, not cause and effect.
However, a connection between blood group and the severity of the disease is not unusual. For example, people with blood type O tend to develop cholera than people with other blood types. Cholera is a bacterial infection that affects the small intestine.
Silverstein called the new research “interesting cocktail party talk”.
Perhaps with further studies, he said, “it could lead to new approaches to prevention or therapy.”
“At present, however, there is no reason to believe that you are protected against Covid-19 if you have blood type O.”
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