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Good news for ‘O’ blood group people: Your risk of catching the COVID-19 virus may be negligible

Good news for ‘O’ blood group people: Your risk of catching the COVID-19 virus may be negligible

There now seems to be a correlation between blood type and the likelihood getting infected with the COVID-19 virus. Read on to know more.

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The new variant of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 does not discriminate between gender and age. The old and the young are equally at risk of infection from exposure to the virus. The only discrimination that scientists have been able to find till now is on the basis of blood group. According to a preliminary results of a recent study by a US-based biotechnology company, 23andMe, people with O-type blood group are less likely to catch the COVID-19 infection. This study is not yet published. More research is going on on the topic. Researchers started studying the relationship of genes with COVID-19 infection. It was a large study involving more than 7.5 lakh people. By the end of May, the study was expanded further to include an additional 10,000 people who had severe COVID-19 infection.  of these 7.5 lakh people.

People with blood type AB at high risk

Researchers divided the participants into three groups; the ones who self-reported COVID-19 infection, the ones who were hospitalised and the ones who got infected after a known exposure. Their blood samples and the genetic design were tested. The results remained the same even after adjusting the individuals on the basis of age, sex, body mass index, ethnicity, and co-morbidities.  However, they did not take the Rhesus factor (plus or minus blood groups) into account during the study.

Here are the findings:

  • Preliminary results of the study suggest that among all the subjects, risk for people with O blood type is the least.
  • They found that individuals with O blood type were around 9-18 per cent less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than individuals with other blood types.
  • They also found that among those who had exposure to the infection, such as healthcare workers and other front line workers, people with blood group O were 13-26 per cent less likely to test positive for COVID-19 than individuals with other blood types.
  • The study further indicated that people with blood group AB were the most likely to test positive for COVID-19 infection, followed by blood group B and then blood group A.
  • A difficult disease to understand

    COVID-19 is caused by a previously unknown strain of coronavirus. This is why it is so difficult for scientists to understand the complexities of the disease. But from the beginning, we have seen that the elderly and those with underlying health conditions are at a greater risk of severe complications and even death. Children show mild symptoms and young adults fare much better in comparison. Earlier, a Chinese study had also looked into the possible correlation between blood type and the likelihood of being hospitalized with COVID-19. Researchers had then said that people with type A blood may be more at risk of hospitalisation than those with other blood types. This study was from the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, China.

    A word of caution

    This story is just a preliminary one and not conclusive as yet. So, if you are an O blood group person, hold on for a moment before you rejoice. Similarly, people with blood group AB need not go into despair. Experts who disagree with the findings of this study say that ‘without establishing causal links between COVID-19 and ABO blood group antigens, it’s difficult to understand this conclusion, which might be purely coincidental’. Moreover, the prevalence of a certain blood group in a particular area also matters. But researchers did not look into this. But all experts unanimously agree that validation of the findings of this study will help the medical fraternity to identify people most at risk of requiring hospitalization due to infection with the new virus. And, this will lead to the formulation of better preventive guidelines.

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