As you’re likely aware, the first cases of the now seemingly ubiquitous Covid-19 virus appeared in Wuhan, China. Throughout several months, the virus consumed the city and the entire Hubei province, killing over 3,000 people and urging a complete lockdown. As tragic as the reality of Wuhan is, it is there that scientists have learned much about the virus - its symptoms and behavior, which ultimately helped other countries prepare to face the dangerous virus.
Recently, researchers from the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, published a preprint article online suggesting they may have found another piece of the puzzle, a piece that can help isolate those who are at a greater risk of developing a severe form of COVID-19, and that piece is blood type. The article made quite a lot of buzz online, and we'll examine what it does and doesn't tell you about the link between blood type and the Coronavirus.
How Is COVID-19 Correlated with Blood Types?
The study examined a total of 2,173 people hospitalized due to a SARS-CoV-2 infection in Wuhan and Shenzhen, focusing on the blood type distribution of the patients. The researchers then compared the data with the distribution of blood types in Wuhan in the general population.
The results revealed people with type A blood were hospitalized with COVID-19 more, and also that patients with blood type O were significantly less likely to be hospitalized due to the Coronavirus. No difference between the patients and the general population was found for B and AB blood types.
As a result, the researchers concluded that those with blood type A are at a higher risk of developing a serious case of COVID-19, and people with blood type O are somewhat less likely to catch it and suffer its more serious symptoms.
Reservations about the Study
Keep in mind that the study only focused on those patients who were severely affected by the virus and required hospitalization, so the findings CANNOT confidently say that individuals with blood type A are more likely to get the disease and that those who have type O blood are somehow immune to the disease.
Another serious drawback of the study is that it only looked at the hospitalizations in Wuhan and Shenzhen - a very isolated population, and it would certainly be necessary to confirm that the same blood type patterns can also be found in populations across other geographical areas throughout the world.
While this is an interesting study in general, you shouldn’t take the correlation between blood type and Coronavirus risks at face value, at least not for now. As Sakthi Vaiyapuri, associate professor of cardiovascular and venom pharmacology at the University of Reading in the UK, pointed out in an interview with Medical News Today, “Without establishing causal links between [the coronavirus] and ABO blood group antigens, it’s difficult to understand this conclusion, which might be purely coincidental. Importantly, people should not panic about these results, as, clearly, further scientific research is required to substantiate these claims.”
To sum everything up, as of now, at the end of March 2020, there is no certain causal link between blood type and the likelihood of developing complications as a result of a SARS-CoV-2 infection or being less likely to do so. Medical experts and epidemiologists maintain that we should all still follow the local quarantine rules in your area, maintain social distancing and proper hygiene.