Scientists from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto found that type O and rhesus-negative (Rh−) blood groups seem to be linked to a lower risk for severe COVID-19 infection.
The research is published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and was conducted by Joel G. Ray et al.
Rhesus (Rh) factor is an inherited protein found on the surface of red blood cells. If your blood has the protein, you’re Rh positive. If your blood lacks the protein, you’re Rh negative.
Doctors need to take into account both ABO and Rh when considering blood types. This means there are eight main blood types in the ABO/Rh blood group system. Some are more common than others.
In the study, the team examined whether ABO and Rh blood groups are linked to COVID-19 infection and severe illness.
They used data from 225,556 people with ABO blood group assessed between January 2007 and December 2019.
The team found that the risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection was lower for blood group O than the A, AB, and B blood groups together.
Rh− blood type was also linked to a reduced risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection, especially for those who were O-negative.
The risk for severe COVID-19 illness or death was lower in association with the type O blood group versus all others and for Rh− versus Rh-positive.
The researchers suggest at most, a small proportion of COVID-19 infection or related illness in the entire population could be prevented by some undetermined property conferred by O blood type and, perhaps, further enhanced by Rh− status.
Whether this information can influence COVID-19 prevention or treatment strategies remains to be determined in future work.
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