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Does blood type matter when it comes to coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) has affected more than 7 million people as of June 2020 with more than 400 thousand fatalities worldwide. It has been declared as a pandemic by WHO and new information regarding the disease is constantly being updated as researchers continue to study the virus and disease. Currently, Malaysia ranks 66th place in the worldwide statistics with 8,445 cases and 120 fatalities as of 13 June 2020. Malaysia has also been recognized in a global survey conducted as one of the five nations in the world to have succeeded in controlling the spread of COVID-19 with the efficiency of COVID-19 Test Malaysia.

A recent preliminary study from China has found correlations between the ABO blood group and the risk of acquiring COVID-19. However, this study has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, meaning that the researchers’ methodology and findings have not been assessed by other experts. The study compared the data taken from three hospitals in Wuhan and Shenzhen, China regarding ABO blood group distribution in patients with COVID-19 with that in normal people from the corresponding regions. The result has shown that blood group type A was associated with a higher risk of acquiring COVID-19 whereas blood group type O was associated with a lower risk.

The researchers compared the blood group distributions among 2,173 patients admitted to hospitals with a group of representatives of the general population in Wuhan, totaling 3,694 people. In the normal population, blood group type A was 31%, type B 24%, type AB 9%, and type O 34% while in those with the virus, blood group type A was 38%, type B 26%, type AB 10% and type O 25%. They found that there is a significantly higher proportion of people with blood group type A among the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as compared among the general population. In contrast, there is a significantly lower proportion of people with blood group type O among those hospitalized with COVID-19 than among the general population. The study also examined 206 patients who died from COVID-19 and found that there were 63% more fatal cases of blood group type A than type O. The influence of sex and age on the ABO blood group distributions in COVID-19 patients were also analyzed and it is found that there are no effects.

Based on these findings, the researchers have concluded that people with blood group type A have a significantly higher risk of acquiring COVID-19 as compared to those non-A blood groups while people with blood group type O have a significantly lower risk of acquiring COVID-19 as compared to those non-O blood groups. The researches state that the blood type differences in COVID-19 risk may be due to certain antibodies in the blood, however, no conclusive explanation was provided as to why people with blood group type A have a higher risk of acquiring COVID-19. The researchers also suggest that there might be a need for strengthened personal protection for people with blood group type A to reduce the chance of infection, while patients with blood group type A might require more strict surveillance and vigorous treatment. Blood type identification as a routine part of treating COVID-19 may be helpful.

There have been numerous past researches done to show some connection between blood type and illnesses. As this is the first observation of an association between ABO blood type and COVID-19, it is important to emphasize that this is an early study with limitations and further investigations should be done. It is stressed that if you are blood group type A, it does not mean you will definitely be infected; if you are blood group type O, it does not mean that you are absolutely safe. Most importantly, wash your hands and follow the safety guidelines as issued by authorities and increase the immune system.