People with a specific blood type may be more vulnerable to Covid-19, claims study

People with blood type A may be more susceptible to Covid-19 compared to other blood types, scientists have claimed.

Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 2:33 pm
Updated Wednesday, 18th March 2020, 2:34 pm

Researchers in China looked at blood group patterns of more than 2,000 people who had been diagnosed with the new coronavirus as part of a preliminary study.

They found that those with blood type A were more vulnerable to infection and tended to develop more severe symptoms while those with the more common blood type O had a "significantly lower risk" of getting the disease.

Although the study is yet to be peer-reviewed by other academics, the team are urging medics and governments to consider blood type differences when treating patients with the virus and helping prevent the spread of the disease.

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The researchers, led by Wang Xinghuan of the Zhongnan Hospital at Wuhan University, looked at the blood of 2,173 people who had been diagnosed with the coronavirus from three hospitals in the Hubei province.

They found that while blood type O (34%) is more common in the general population in China than type A (32%), around 41% of Covid-19 patients had blood type A, whereas people with type O accounted for just 25%.

Of the 206 patients in the study who died, 85 had blood type A, equivalent to 41% of all deaths, the researchers said.

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 Prof 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% have blood type O, making it the most common blood group, while 38% 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.