People with Type A blood are MORE likely to catch coronavirus than those with Type O, study claims
People with Type A blood are significantly more likely to catch coronavirus than those with Type O, Chinese academics have found. The study in Wuhan – the epicentre of the disease – also found those with Type A blood are more likely to die from COVID-19.
In the general population Type O blood (34%) is more common than A (32%). However, among COVID-19 patients, people with Type O accounted for just 25%, whereas Type A made up 41%.
People with Type O blood made up a quarter (25 per cent) of deaths in the research. Normally, Type O people make up 32 per cent of people in Wuhan.
The controversial correlation has yet to be scrutinised by other academics in peer review and the researchers are unable to explain why infection varies by blood type.
Researchers in China assessed 2,173 people who had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including 206 people who died after contracting the virus, from three hospitals in Hubei.
Academics compared the data of the infected Wuhan patients with 3,694 non-infected people in the same region.
Of the 206 patients in the study who died, 85 had type A blood, equivalent to 41 per cent of all deaths.
In the healthy Wuhan population, a city of 11 million people, 34 per cent of people are type A.
In the study cohort, 52 of the people who died were type O, making up a quarter of all deaths. Under normal conditions just 32 per cent of people are type O.
The figures for all infections, not just deaths, are 26 per cent and 38 per cent for type O and type A, respectively.
The coronavirus pandemic has infected almost 200,000 people and killed more than 8.000 worldwide. More than 3,200 deaths were in China, the disease’s ground-zero.
The researchers write: ‘Blood group O was associated with a lower risk of death compared with non-O groups. To the contrary, blood group A was associated with a higher risk of death compared with non-A groups.’
The researchers point out that a larger study group would make the figures more reliable.
The researchers believe this correlation may reveal type O people are less susceptible to the SARS-COV-2 virus.
‘People of blood group A might need particularly strengthened personal protection to reduce the chance of infection,’ wrote the researchers in their paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed but has been published online on medrxiv .
‘Sars-CoV-2-infected patients with blood group A might need to receive more vigilant surveillance and aggressive treatment. ‘
The researchers add: ‘It might be helpful to introduce ABO blood typing in both patients and medical personnel as a routine part of the management of Sars-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections, to help define the management options and assess risk exposure levels of people’.
Gao Yingdai, a researcher with the State Key Laboratory of Experimental Haematology in Tianjin, told South China Morning Post: ‘[The study] may be helpful to medical professionals, but ordinary citizens should not take the statistics too seriously.
‘If you are type A, there is no need to panic. It does not mean you will be infected 100 percent.
‘If you are type O, it does not mean you are absolutely safe, either. You still need to wash your hands and follow the guidelines issued by authorities.’
The difference in blood groups depends on attachments to red blood cells called antigens. The presence, or absence, of these molecules dictates what blood type a person is.
Previous research has indicates people with types A, B and AB blood have an increased risk of coronary heart disease compared to people with type O blood.
Other research claims people with blood type A have a 24 per cent higher risk of heart attack than people than people with AB or O blood types.
Commenting on the research, Professor Robin C May of the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, who was not involved in the study, said its findings do not explain the mechanisms that show whether a person with blood type A is more susceptible to the Covid-19 disease.
He said that as this coronavirus infects the lungs, it is ‘harder to see how a virus that does not live in red blood cells would be impacted by your blood type’.
According to Professor May, the results from the study should ‘definitely not’ be a cause for concern for those with A type blood, as ‘the proportion of increased risk associated with the blood group is quite slender’ when compared with ‘the proportion of relative risk of washing your hands’.
In the UK population, 48 per cent have blood type O, making it the most common blood group, while 38 per cent have type A.
GPs do not routinely check people’s blood groups so for those wanting to know their blood type, one of the options is to donate blood through the NHS Blood and Transplant, which will be recorded on the official donor card.