Preliminary results from a new COVID-19 study by genetic testing company 23andMe suggests that blood type could affect how susceptible a person is to the coronavirus. Very early data indicates that those with type O blood are between 9% and 18% less likely than people with other blood types to have tested positive for the illness.
The study, which examines how genetics could play a role in susceptibility to the coronavirus, found little difference among blood types A, B and AB. The findings, which have not yet been peer reviewed, held when adjusted for age, BMI, ethnicity, and other existing diseases.
- Additionally, participants with type O blood who had been exposed to the coronavirus were between 13% and 26% less likely to test positive
- 23andMe researchers believe this may indicate a link between the virus and the genes that determine blood type
- Roughly 1.3% of participants with type O blood tested positive for COVID-19
- By comparison, 1.4% of participants with type A blood and 1.5% with type B or type AB were confirmed to have the virus
‘Preliminary data from 23andMe’s ongoing genetic study of COVID-19 appears to lend more evidence for the importance of a person’s blood type — determined by the ABO gene — in differences in the susceptibility to the virus,’ 23andMe, the company behind the world’s best DNA testing kit, said in a blog post discussing the findings.
‘Among respondents to the 23andMe COVID-19 survey, the percent of respondents reporting a positive test for COVID-19 is lowest for people who are O blood type. The percent of respondents reporting a positive test for COVID-19 was highest among those with the AB blood type.’
'The study and recruitment are ongoing, with the hope that we can use our research platform to better understand differences in how people respond to the virus,' the 23andMe blog read.
'Ultimately, we hope to publish our research findings in order to provide more insight into COVID-19 for the scientific community.'
This isn't the first study into whether certain blood types could offer protective benefits, but it does tally with other research on the subject. In a collaborative study conducted by doctors from Germany, Italy, Norway and Spain, blood samples were collected from 1,610 patients who needed oxygen or who were put on ventilators. Separately, 2,205 people who weren’t infected with the coronavirus also donated blood samples.
The study found that patients with type A blood were 50% more likely to need oxygen or require a ventilator, while type O was associated with lower risk compared to other blood groups.
A study published in March, which compared blood types of confirmed coronavirus cases in Wuhan and Shenzhen to healthy residents in Wuhan, also found that type O blood could be more resistant, while type A suggested a higher level of susceptibility. “People of blood group A might need particularly strengthened personal protection to reduce the chance of infection,” wrote researchers at the Centre for Evidence-Based and Translational Medicine, Wuhan.
23andMe is still recruiting for its COVID-19 study, and last month the study was expanded to include people outside its customer base who have experienced severe COVID-19 symptoms.
If you take part in the research, you’ll be asked to answer a series of questions about whether you have experienced cold or flu-like symptoms, whether you have been diagnosed or treated for COVID-19, and whether you were hospitalized for it.
Looking for more coronavirus-related health content? Read up on 12 common coronavirus questions answered by a doctor, or learn how to use the best digital thermometers to monitor a potential fever, and where to buy reusable face masks for use in situations where social distancing is hard to maintain.