Blood Group O is Less Susceptible to COVID-19 virus

As on today, the global number of COVID-19 cases across the world has increased to around 7.5 million, wherein the number of deaths was nearing 421,000. These statistics were released according to a Johns Hopkins University report.The US continues to be at top of the list with the highest number of confirmed cases and deaths reaching 2,022,488 and 113,803, respectively, according to the report. India is ranked 4th in this list and recorded over 2.97 lakh COVID-19 cases today with about 10,956 new patients registered in the past 24 hours, said the Union health ministry, India. After around 396 deaths were reported in a day, the COVID-19 death toll in the nation reached 8,498. COVID-19 infection has affected people in many different ways across the world. Some experience truly adverse symptoms, some just a few and others may be asymptomatic.

There is one aspect of COVID-19 virus that has puzzled scientists and doctors across the world. The question is when infected with COVID-19 virus do some patients display mild to moderate symptoms, whereas other patients develop severe symptoms that can prove fatal?

23andMe study sheds light

Recently a new study by a genetic testing company named 23andMe sheds light on which blood type is more or less likely to contract the COVID-19 infection. This direct personal genomics and biotechnology company is perhaps best known for its home DNA testing kits, wherein consumers can learn about their genetic make-up or ancestry in the comfort of there homes. However, after the onset of COVID-19 virus pandemic, the company switched gears and looked to see how their gene testing services could offer a helping hand in understanding the COVID-19 disease’s pathophysiology. This is not the first time the company has taken initiative and conducted research, they have been involved in research activities since a while now. Around three years ago, a research team at 23andMe published the results of a study conducted by them in the scientific journal Nature Communications reporting that nearly 60% of genetic variants in human beings are associated with high vulnerability to one out of 17 types of infectious diseases.

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What the study says?

A preliminary study by the company indicates that O blood type appears to be more resistant against the COVID-19 virus as compared to all other blood types. The study has also found more evidence on how differences in the ABO gene, which determines a person’s blood group, regulates the susceptibility of the person towards the COVID-19 virus. Further individuals with O blood type are between 9-18 per cent less likely to test positive with COVID-19 infection than compared to individuals with other blood types. The parameters included for these findings were age, sex, body mass index, ethnicity, and comorbidity.

According to the study while looking at only exposed individuals, the one’s with O blood group were 13-26 per cent less likely to test positive for COVID-19 virus. Also if considering healthcare and other front line workers among those exposed to the virus, 23andMe found that blood group O is more protective, but the proportion of cases within the strata is higher. The study also found that differences in rhesus factor (blood group + or -) did not affect whether the blood type was protective against COVID-19 virus. Moreover, this was not a factor in the severity of cases.The study is still undergoing, with 23andMe scientists yet to configure at what the genetic data actually indicates. So far, 750,000 participants have been studied by the company, and has plans to include 10,000 more participants outside of 23andMe who have been recently hospitalized and diagnosed with COVID-19 infection.

Other studies
Earlier this month, some other researchers had identified certain proteins in the blood of COVID-19 patients which are linked to the severity of the disease. This recent development is anticipated to lead to markers that provide information on the progression of their disease.

Also in China during March, results of a preliminary research had stated that people with blood group A are more vulnerable to COVID-19 virus. The same study had also concluded that people with Type-O blood could be more resistant to the COVID-19 virus. These research studies could bring a ray of hope for people across the globe bravely fighting this fatal pandemic.

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