A recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard University provides further evidence that individuals with blood type A may be at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to those with blood type O. The study, published in the journal Blood, focused on the virus’s ability to infect different blood types and revealed that SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, showed a greater affinity for blood group A cells. While this research sheds light on the relationship between blood type and COVID-19 susceptibility, it is important to note that blood type alone does not determine an individual’s vulnerability to the virus.
The Impact of Blood Type A on SARS-CoV-2 Infection
The experiments conducted by the scientists demonstrated that certain variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus had a 25 to 50 percent higher ability to infect blood group A cells compared to blood group O cells. Notably, the omicron variant showed an even stronger preference for infecting blood group A cells than the original virus. However, the study’s lead author, Dr. Sean R. Stowell, emphasizes that these findings do not imply that individuals with blood type O are completely protected from the virus. Further research is needed to fully understand the interplay between blood type and COVID-19 susceptibility.
Blood Type as a Determining Factor
While blood type may influence the risk of infection, it is crucial to recognize that other factors play a more significant role in determining the severity of COVID-19 once an individual becomes infected. Age, underlying health conditions, and immunocompromised status are known to have a more substantial impact on the course of the disease. Consequently, Dr. Sandhya Panch from the University of Washington School of Medicine advises against making assumptions about an individual’s susceptibility to the virus based solely on their blood type.
The Mechanism Behind the Greater Risk for Blood Type A
The study delves into the mechanisms that contribute to the higher susceptibility of blood type A individuals to SARS-CoV-2 infection. The virus employs spike proteins, which act as finger-like projections, to bind to human cells and gain entry. The tips of these spikes exhibit a particular affinity for blood group A cells, making it easier for the virus to enter and replicate within these cells. This preference aligns with similar associations between blood type and susceptibility to other human pathogens, such as cholera, salmonella, and helicobacter.
While this study primarily focused on blood types A and O due to their contrasting risk profiles, ongoing research will explore the relationship between blood type B and COVID-19 susceptibility. Understanding the intricate workings of the virus and its interactions with different blood types can provide valuable insights into combating similar viruses or emerging variants that pose a significant threat to human health.