Published by Kirby Winn on Tuesday, March 30, 2021 in Blog
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, donors have asked about reports that a person’s blood type could make them more susceptible to a COVID-19 infection, and that their blood type could even influence the severity of one’s symptoms from COVID-19.
One of our own Medical Directors, Dr. Ruchika Goel (right), worked with an international team to review research on ABO Blood Group and COVID-19 for an article published in Vox Sanguinis, the official journal of the International Society of Blood Transfusion. The review of research conducted across multiple continents and ethnicities points to a correlation between Blood Group A and elevated rates of COVID-19 infection compared with other blood types. Many of the same studies also show lower than expected rates of COVID-19 infection for those with Blood Group O. The reason for this correlation is at this point unknown, and there are doctors who argue that the correlation in some cases disappears after adjustment for various other risk factors.
Reviewing some of possible reasons for the correlation, Dr. Goel and her co-authors note that naturally occurring antibodies that are more prevalent in Type O blood could serve as a neutralizing function against the virus. The authors also note that all blood types are at risk for COVID-19 infection, and that other factors, such as age, hypertension, and history of smoking, play a dominant role in risk for serious illness from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Finally, because the role of ABO will be relatively small and non-changeable and thus there are insufficient data for guiding any policy or management decision in this regard. The review in Vox Sanguinis concludes:
“The role of ABO blood group in SARS-CoV-2 infectivity and COVID-19 disease severity requires additional study; however, accumulating evidence suggests that, at biochemical and physiological levels, there may be a contribution of ABO blood type to disease biology. It also must be recognized that host factors already identified as contributing to COVID-19 severity, play a dominant role, coupled with timely access to appropriate medical care. By contrast, the role of ABO type is likely secondary and non-modifiable.”
(Click here for the full article in Vox Sanguinis.)
So, should people with Type A blood worry more about COVID-19 than people with Type O?
No, because people with any blood type can be infected with and experience serious illness from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Further, other risk factors age, history of hypertension etc. play a far more important role than blood type in determining the severity of symptoms that can come with a COVID-19 infection.