BOSTON — Covid-19 may seem random because some infected people show no symptoms while others end up on a ventilator or even pass away. Now researchers in Boston are trying to figure out why. They’re zeroing in on the role your blood type may play.
Dr. Sean Stowell is a pathologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and he is studying that possibility.
“We thought I wonder if the virus binds to blood group antigens based on studies coming out of Wuhan and Europe,” said Dr. Stowell.
In a laboratory study, the team assessed how the coronavirus interacted with respiratory and red blood cells in A, B and O blood types.
These studies seem to indicate that, while anyone can be infected with Covid-19, people with blood type A could be more at risk.
“There have been studies that suggest people who have blood group A get more infected, or are likely to have more severe disease outcome,” Stowell.
Stowell says that’s because the virus seems to prefer binding on blood group A’s respiratory cells. We asked if that makes someone with blood type A more susceptible to the coronavirus.
“That’s the suspicion but the jury is still out because there is conflicting data out there,” said Dr. Stowell.
If researchers can determine if the coronavirus is attracted to blood group type A, doctors say it could lead to new ways to treat the virus or even prevent people from getting it in the first place.
Knowing your blood type could arm you with information if you get Covid -19, but as we discovered many of us have no idea what our blood type is.
We asked people on the street if they knew. One woman who declined to give her name said she does not know. But added, “I feel like a lot of people don’t know what theirs is,” she said.
Alan Greenberg didn’t know either. “No, no I really don’t,” he said.
Regular blood donors are informed of their blood type so we reached out to the Red Cross for their perspective. They said in part:
“The American Red Cross is aware that several studies and articles have found a correlation between blood type and susceptibility to Covid - 19. While there is some evidence that shows lower Covid-19 infection rates for those with blood type O more research is needed before definite conclusions can be drawn. " - American Red Cross Massachusetts
They point to lower infection rates for blood type O but admit that although we’re getting closer more research needs to be done. In Brookline residents agree that figuring out a virus is tricky business,
Stowell says they’re working to learn more about the virus every day.
“There are some studies that suggest blood group A have a slightly increased risk of having but it doesn’t mean that blood group O can’t get the infection and have really bad outcomes.”
In the meantime, Stowell says it’s still important to follow safety protocols, wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing to keep from getting infected.
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