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Blood groups linked to COVID-19 risk

Monday October 19th 2020

Two new studies have explored how blood groups are associated with risk of infection and severity of disease from SARS-CoV-2 infection.

They gathered information from 95 critically ill COVID-19 patients at hospitals in Vancouver, Canada.

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, the researchers state today (14 October) in Blood Advances.

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."

Research on more than 473,000 patients in Denmark 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.

"Blood groups A and AB associated with increased risk of severe clinical outcomes of COVID-19 infection People with blood groups A or AB appear to exhibit greater COVID-19 disease severity than people with blood groups O or B, according to a separate retrospective study.”

Barington, T. et al. Blood Advances 14 October 2020.

Tags: Europe | Flu & Viruses | North America

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