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COVID-19 and blood type

Connection is debated

Isabell Rivera OW Contributor | 9/10/2020, midnight

Research is still being conducted to find out more about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and how it operates. What’s known so far:

—It spreads quicker in closed spaces than outdoors, according to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Professor Erin Bromage.

—Children could spread the virus and also get infected—according to an article at Mana—Medical Associates.

—The elderly are more sensitive to getting infected with COVID-19 than the younger generation, especially individuals who have pre-conditions, such as diabetes type-II or asthma.

—Men are also at a higher risk to get the virus than women.

And last but not least, people of color are also at higher risk than Asian- and Caucasian Americans, according to several news sources.

Since the pandemic reached its peak, scientists and researchers have looked for different answers and theories, including the connection between different blood types and COVID-19.

There are eight different blood types: O-negative and positive; AB-negative and positive; A-negative and positive; and B-negative and positive.

According to a report conducted by MIT Technology Review, early research done by Chinese researchers suggested that blood type plays an important role in how COVID-19 develops in the human body. Their research shows that blood types from 2,173 infected individuals from Wuhan and Shenzhen were analyzed and compared with the results of healthy individuals from the same cities. The results show that 38 percent of individuals infected with COVID-19 had blood type A, in comparison to only 31 percent of healthy individuals who have been surveyed. Blood Type O showed a reduced risk with 26 percent of COVID-19 cases versus 34 percent of healthy individuals. Also, a larger proportion of deaths related to COVID-19 are from Type A, rather than other blood types.

A study conducted by Columbia University suggested a similar course. Type A patients were 34 percent more prone to test positive for COVID-19 than blood type O or AB.

According to the Texas Medical Center (TMC), many scientists believe that the blood type plays a key role in how the immune system responds.

“I do believe there is likely a connection,” Assistant Professor Dr. Ang Li, of Hematology and Oncology at Baylor College of Medicine, told TMC. “The cases are not a study of all COVID patients versus all non-COVID patients, and it’s not a study of all severe COVID patients versus all non-severe COVID patients. It’s comparing the severe COVID patients versus everyone else without COVID. So, it’s hard to know if it’s an increased susceptibility to infection or a severity question.”

Another study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine researched 1,610 COVID-19 positive patients from the epicenters in Italy and Spain, who had respiratory failure, and compared them to an estimated 2,000 healthy individuals. Since the research groups were small, it is still too early to determine what- and if there even is a connection between blood type and COVID-19, since many scientists are still looking for concrete answers.

“We have different antibody profiles based on our ABO blood types,” Li told TMC. “Also, there are some theories about how some of these ABO genes, based on the protein they’re encoding, might affect some of the receptors where the virus binds and can alter how someone becomes more or less susceptible to the virus.”

On the contrary, Harvard University’s Medical School (HMS) reported that a new study conducted by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found that the blood type is irrelevant to how fast COVID-19 spreads in some patients, or why it’s deadly for others. However, the report found out that patients who have blood type AB or B, are symptomatic and who are positive with Rh (Rhesus factor protein), were more likely to test COVID-19 positive than blood type O.

“We showed through a multi-institutional study that there is no reason to believe being a certain ABO blood type will lead to increased disease severity, which we defined as requiring intubation or leading to death,” senior study author and HMS Assistant Professor of Surgery at Mass General, Anahita Dua said in the article published by HMS. “This evidence should help put to rest previous reports of a possible association between blood type A and a higher risk for COVID-19 infection and mortality.”

Harvard Medical School also conducted its own research with 1,289 symptomatic individuals with COVID-19 and who had their blood type documented, were selected from 7,600 individuals from five different hospitals in the Boston-region. Their treatment took place from March 6 to April 16.

No connection between blood type and  COVID-19 complications was able to be formed.

“Inflammation is a particularly important finding because prevailing scientific thought is that COVID-19 wreaks havoc on the body through systemic inflammation, which can lead to morbidity and death,” Dua mentioned in the article. “We found, however, that inflammation markers remained similar in infected patients regardless of their blood type.”