People with Type A blood are MORE likely to catch and die from coronavirus than those with Type O, study claims
A person’s blood type may make them more susceptible to catching the novel coronavirus spreading around the world, a new study claims.
The research states people with type A blood are significantly more likely to catch the virus than an individual with type O blood.
It also appears people with type A blood are more likely to die from COVID-19.
The controversial research has yet to be scrutinised by other academics and the Chinese researchers are unable to explain why infection varies by blood type.
Researchers in China assessed 2,173 people who had been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including 206 people who died after contracting the virus, from three hospitals in Hubei.
Of the 206 patients in the study who died, 85 had type A blood, equivalent to 41 per cent of all deaths.
In the healthy Wuhan population, a city of 11 million people, 34 per cent of people are type A.
In the study cohort, 52 of the people who died who were type O, making up a quarter of all deaths. Under normal conditions just 32 per cent of people are type O.
The coronavirus pandemic has infected almost 200,000 people and killed more than 7,800 worldwide. More than 3,000 deaths were in China, the disease’s ground-zero.
Academics compared the data of the infected Wuhan patients with 3,694 non-infected people in the same region.
Normally, in Wuhan’s general public, 32 per cent of people are type A but this figure rose to 38 per cent among the infected.
In contrast, type O people make up 34 per cent of the general public but this figure plummeted to 26 per cent of infected patients.
The researchers write: ‘Blood group O was associated with a lower risk of death compared with non-O groups.
‘To the contrary, blood group A was associated with a higher risk of death compared with non-A groups.’
The researchers believe this correlation may reveal type O people are less susceptible to the SARS-COV-2 viru.
‘People of blood group A might need particularly strengthened personal protection to reduce the chance of infection,’ wrote the researchers in their paper, which has not yet been peer-reviewed but has been published online on medrxiv.
‘Sars-CoV-2-infected patients with blood group A might need to receive more vigilant surveillance and aggressive treatment. ‘
The researchers add: ‘It might be helpful to introduce ABO blood typing in both patients and medical personnel as a routine part of the management of Sars-CoV-2 and other coronavirus infections, to help define the management options and assess risk exposure levels of people’.
Brief note on what coronavirus is
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why.
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. It can also live on surfaces, such as plastic and steel, for up to 72 hours, meaning people can catch it by touching contaminated surfaces.