Research shows differences in a gene that influences a person’s blood type can affect a person’s susceptibility to Covid-19, says an article published in BloombergQuint.
Genetic factors and COVID-19
Some people who contract the new coronavirus experience no symptoms, while others become gravely ill. Scientists have been looking at genetic factors to try to determine the reason for the same.
DNA database study
In April, genetic-testing giant 23andMe launched a study that sought to use the millions of profiles in its DNA database to shed light on the role genetics play in the disease.
Findings of the study
The company said that the preliminary results from more than 750,000 participants suggests type O blood is especially protective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
The findings echo other research that has indicated a link between variations in the ABO gene and Covid-19.
Blood type plays a role
Many other groups, including 23andMe competitor Ancestry Inc., are combing the genome to help make sense of the virus.
It is known that factors such as age and underlying health conditions can determine how people fare once they’ve contracted Covid-19.
Apart from those factors, study of genetics of the people could help:
- Explain the wide diversity of symptoms, or why some people contract the disease and others don’t.
- Identifying people who are more susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 and protect those more at risk, as well as help speed treatment and drug development.
Several other studies looking at both severity of illness and susceptibility to disease have also suggested blood type plays a role.
Respiratory failure and related blood type
Research published last week prior to peer review suggested blood type may play a role in the severity of patients’ reactions to SARS-CoV-2.
- That study looked at the genes of more than 1,600 patients in Italy and Spain who experienced respiratory failure.
- The result was having type A blood was linked to a 50% increase in the likelihood a patient would require a ventilator.
- An earlier Chinese study turned up similar results regarding a person’s susceptibility to Covid-19.
COVID-19 and other ailments
Adam Auton, lead researcher on the 23andMe study said:
“There have also been some reports of links between Covid-19, blood clotting, and cardiovascular disease. These reports provided some hints about which genes might be relevant.”
The research findings
The 23andMe study, which looked at susceptibility rather than severity of illness, included 10,000 participants who told the company they had Covid-19.
- The research found that individuals with type O blood are between 9% and 18% less likely than individuals with other blood types to have tested positive for the virus.
- However, there was little difference in susceptibility among other blood types, the study found.
Importance of resource pooling
Auton said that while this evidence is compelling, there is still a long way to go.
It’s early days; even with these sample sizes, it might not be enough to find genetic associations.
We’re not the only group looking at this, and ultimately the scientific community may need to pool their resources to really address questions surrounding the links between genetics and Covid-19.
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