TAMPA, Fla. – Doctors say there is mounting evidence of a link between a certain blood type and the severity of the new coronavirus.
A recent study included almost 2,000 patients with severe COVID-19 in Italy and Spain. An extensive genetic analysis was performed, observing more than eight and a half million genetic variations.
One of the gene groups was related to blood types. Overall, they found that people with type A blood increased their risk by 45%.
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Dr. Charles Lockwood of the University of South Florida says that other risk factors such as age, diabetes, high blood pressure, lung or heart disease are known risk factors.
As we continue to learn more about this virus, type A blood would add one more.
“The effects are additive,” explained Dr. Lockwood, dean of the USF medical school. “So if you’re 70 and you smoke, emphysema and you have an A positive blood type, I don’t know if I’d like to get away from my house.”
People with type O blood had a protective effect with a 35% lower risk. However, that does not mean that people with type O blood are safe and do not have to take precautions.
The study also revealed another group of genes that may increase the risk. Those genes regulate the immune response and are linked to ace receptors in the airway that bind to the virus and allow it to enter the cell.
Both discoveries can lead to specific treatments.
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The study did not reveal why blood type can increase risk, but there are some theories.
One has to do with coagulation, a known complication of COVID-19. People with type O blood have fewer proteins that promote clotting.
They also found that the genes that encode the blood type are close to others that regulate the immune system, so they could be playing an important role.
The difference in risk may also be related to antibodies in the blood. People with most blood types, except AB, form antibodies against different blood types; This is why it is so important not to give someone the wrong blood type in a transfusion.
Type A forms antibodies against B, Type B forms antibodies against A, and Type O creates antibodies against A and B.
Some believe that anti-a antibodies in blood type O can only be protective. Although people with type B blood also have them, they don’t have the same benefit.