29 October 2020

Blood group linked to COVID-19 risk


Two new studies, published in the journal Blood Advances, have explored how blood groups are associated with risk of infection and severity of disease from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

A Canadian study gathered information from 95 critically ill COVID-19 patients at hospitals in Vancouver. Analysis showed that those with blood groups A and AB were more likely to require mechanical ventilation for breathing difficulties, and dialysis for kidney failure.

Patients in these two blood groups may have an increased risk of organ dysfunction or failure due to COVID-19. Although these patients did not have longer overall hospital stays than those with blood types O or B, they needed more time in intensive care.

Researcher Dr Mypinder Sekhon, from the University of British Columbia, said: “The unique part of our study is our focus on the severity effect of blood type on COVID-19. We observed this lung and kidney damage, and in future studies, we will want to tease out the effect of blood group and COVID-19 on other vital organs.

“Of particular importance as we continue to traverse the pandemic, we now have a wide range of survivors who are exiting the acute part of COVID-19, but we need to explore mechanisms by which to risk stratify those with longer-term effects.”

In a separate study on more than 473,000 people tested for COVID-19 in Denmark, researchers also found that people with blood type O appear to be at the lowest risk of infection. Those with blood types A, B, and AB appear to be at similar levels of infection risk.

Dr Torben Barington, of the University of Southern Denmark, and colleagues looked for a potential association as part of the urgent need to identify coronavirus risk factors.

Dr Barington says: “We have the advantage of a strong control group - Denmark is a small, ethnically homogenous country with a public health system and a central registry for lab data - so our control is population-based, giving our findings a strong foundation.”


Barnkob MB, Pottegård A, Støvring H, Haunstrup TM, Homburg K, Larsen R, Hansen MB, Titlestad K, Aagaard B, Møller BK, Barington T (2020) “Reduced prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in ABO blood group O”, Blood Adv, doi: 10.1182/bloodadvances.2020002657

Hoiland RL, Fergusson NA, Mitra AR, Griesdale DEG, Devine DV, Stukas S, Cooper J, Thiara S, Foster D, Chen LYC, Lee AYY, Conway EM, Wellington CL, Sekhon MS. (2020) “The association of ABO blood group with indices of disease severity and multiorgan dysfunction in COVID-19”, Blood Adv, doi: bloodadvances.2020002623

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