Why people with blood type A may be more susceptible to COVID-19

We’ve known for a while that your blood type could make you more likely to get COVID-19. A study from China released early on in the pandemic identified people with type A blood as having a significantly higher risk of contracting COVID-19, while people with type O blood had the lowest risk.

What wasn’t clearly understood at that point was why people with type A blood were more at risk. Now, researchers have pinpointed what could be the reason for that increased susceptibility…

COVID-19 virus prefers specific type A antigen

A laboratory study discovered that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has a special preference for the blood group A antigen found on respiratory cells.

The researchers focused on SARS-CoV-2’s receptor binding domain (RBD), a protein on the surface of the virus that attaches to the host cells, allowing the virus to infect people. The team examined the interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 RBD and respiratory and red blood cells in A, B and O blood types.

According to the results, the SARS-CoV-2 RBD had a strong preference for binding to the blood group A antigen on respiratory cells in the lungs of people with type A blood. The virus RBD had no preference for type A red blood cells or other blood group antigens present on respiratory or red blood cells.

“It is interesting that the viral RBD only really prefers the type of blood group A antigens that are on respiratory cells, which are presumably how the virus is entering most patients and infecting them,” says study author Dr. Sean Stowell, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“Blood type is a challenge because it is inherited and not something we can change,” Stowell observes. “But if we can better understand how the virus interacts with blood groups in people, we may be able to find new medicines or methods of prevention.”

The study findings may provide insight into the potential link between blood group A and COVID-19 infection; however, the researchers caution that they alone can’t fully describe or predict how coronaviruses like SARS-CoV-2 would affect patients of various blood types.

“Our observation is not the only mechanism responsible for what we are seeing clinically, but it could explain some of the influence of blood type on COVID-19 infection,” say Stowell and his team.

Blood type not complete COVID-19 protection

If you have type A blood, don’t worry too much: it isn’t a guarantee you’ll get COVID-19. And if you have type O blood, it isn’t a complete defense against COVID-19. You still need to take the same measures to avoid COVID-19 spread: wash your hands frequently, wear a mask, avoid large gatherings and keep at least 6 feet of distance between you and other people.

Vaccination is one of the best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19. And on the slim chance you get COVID-19 after being vaccinated, it will make the illness much less severe.

How to find out your blood type

If you have donated blood in the past, you likely already know your blood type. However, you may never have donated blood or had any other occasion to discover what your blood type is.

If you want to find out your blood type, there are other ways besides donating blood. Try checking with your doctor; you may have had a blood test in the past that involved typing your blood, and your doctor’s office would have those records on file.

You can also have your blood typed by a lab like Quest Diagnostics. Or you can do it yourself using an at-home kit like this one from EldonCard. You’ll need to prick your finger with a needle and place drops of blood on the card provided in the kit. The card contains chemicals called reagents that test for the presence of the antibodies and Rh factor that characterize each blood type.

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Scientists discover why blood type may matter for COVID infection — Medical Xpress

How can you find out your blood type? — Medical News Today


Carolyn Gretton

By Carolyn Gretton

Carolyn Gretton is a freelance writer based in New Haven, CT who specializes in all aspects of health and wellness and is passionate about discovering the latest health breakthroughs and sharing them with others. She has worked with a wide range of companies in the alternative health space and has written for online and print publications like Dow Jones Newswires and the Philadelphia Inquirer.