SINCE the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, scientists have been hunting for clues as to why some people are more affected than others.
But now a team of experts claim to have the answer – and they say it comes down to blood type.
Read our coronavirus live blog for the latest news & updates
Your blood type could affect your risk of dying from coronavirus, experts claim[/caption]
Scientists from various countries in Europe compared the genes of thousands of patients who tested positive with the virus.
They found that those who had Type A blood were more likely to have severe disease while those with Type O were less likely.
The study compared about 2,000 patients with severe Covid-19 to several thousand other people who were healthy or who had only mild or no symptoms.
Researchers from Italy, Spain, Denmark, Germany and other European countries, tied variations in six genes to the likelihood of severe disease.
These included some that could have a role in how vulnerable people are to the virus.
They also connected blood groups to possible risk.
The report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, does not prove a blood type connection.
However, it does confirm a previous report from China of such a link.
Dr Parameswar Hari, a blood specialist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said his colleagues had discounted it “because it was a very crude study”.
“With the new work, now I believe it. It could be very important,” he said.
But other scientists have urged caution, warning that the evidence of a role for blood type is tentative.
Dr Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in San Diego, said: “It isn’t enough of a signal to be sure.”
Most genetic studies like this are much larger, so it would be important to see if other scientists can look at other groups of patients to see if they find the same links, he added.
Many researchers have been trying to understand why some people infected with the coronavirus get very ill and others, less so.
Being older or male seems to increase risk, and scientists have been looking at genes as another possible host factor that influences disease severity.
There are four main blood types A, B, AB and O.
Dr Mary Horowitz, scientific chief at the Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research, said: “It’s determined by proteins on the surface of your red blood cells.”
She explained that people with Type O are better able to recognise certain proteins as foreign, and that may extend to proteins on virus surfaces.
During the SARS outbreak, which was caused by a genetic cousin of the coronavirus causing the current pandemic, “it was noted that people with O blood type were less likely to get severe disease”, she said.
Blood type also has been tied to susceptibility to some other infectious diseases.
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS – STAY IN THE KNOW
Don't miss the latest news and figures – and essential advice for you and your family.
To receive The Sun’s Coronavirus newsletter in your inbox every tea time, sign up here.
To follow us on Facebook, simply ‘Like’ our Coronavirus page.
Get Britain’s best-selling newspaper delivered to your smartphone or tablet each day – find out more.
Most read in Health News
Healthy 13-day-old baby is UK's youngest corona victim as 135 more die
Mum has to prove twins have same dad to put late partner on birth certificate
FIRST RAIN NOW SNOW!
UK hit by SNOW after freak thunderstorms dump 2in of rain
X FACTOR RAPIST
X Factor reject who sang Spandau Ballet’s Gold admits 13 rapes & 31 attacks
Chatting in hairdressers could be banned to stop spread of coronavirus
FROZEN IN TIME
Eerie abandoned time-warp cottage is 20th-century treasure trove
These include cholera, recurrent urinary tract infections from E. coli, and a bug called H. pylori that can cause ulcers and stomach cancer,
Dr. David Valle, director of the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, said: “It’s a provocative study.
“Its in my view well worth publishing and getting out there, but it needs verification in more patients.”