Ever since the first cases of COVID-19 started popping up in Wuhan, China in December 2019, researchers have been busy gathering clues about the highly infectious, often deadly, and very mysterious virus that has plagued the planet. One key focus has been determining populations who are at more of a risk of developing severe and life-threatening variations of the virus. A new study has delved deeper into why some people get incredibly sick and others don’t—and according to researchers, it has to do with the genetics that determine your blood type.
Increased Risk of Respiratory Failure
The New York Times reports that the study, still in the peer review process, determined that there are two spots in the human genome where there are variations, linked to an increased risk of respiratory failure in patients with COVID-19. One of them hosts the gene that determines blood type.
According to researchers, which includes co-author of the study, Andre Franke, a molecular geneticist at the University of Kiel in Germany, those with Type A blood have a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that if infected with the virus, they would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator.
Researchers point out the significance of their findings—that there are coronavirus risk factors we haven’t explored. “There are new kids on the block now,” Franke told the Times. Additionally, learning about why certain genes may raise the odds of severe disease could also help drug designers in their mission to design effective vaccines and treatments.
“This is Haunting Me”
This isn’t the first study to find a link between Type A blood and increased coronavirus risk. A Chinese study examining the blood types of nearly 2,200 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in China, as well as the blood types of 27,000 who didn’t have COVID-19 in the same areas, showed that those with A blood types are at a significantly higher risk of contracting the coronavirus compared with other blood types.
Dr. Franke admits however, that neither his study, nor the Chinese study, offers solid evidence exactly how blood types might affect the disease. “That is haunting me, quite honestly,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other people who are at higher risk for COVID-19 include older adults, people who are immunocompromised, people suffering from asthma, HIV, liver disease, serious heart conditions, and severe obesity.
As for you: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.