WASHINGTON — There’s plenty of research linking various underlying conditions to coronavirus infection. Now, evidence shows your blood classification could play a role too. People with blood type A are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19, warns a new study.
More than a third of people belong to the blood type, making them more likely to pick up the virus responsible for the deaths of more than 520,000 Americans. Researchers report that a particular protein in the virus — the receptor binding domain, or RBD — is particularly attracted to respiratory cells in the lungs among people with type A blood.
The discovery could potentially be used to find new medicines or techniques to stop the virus, the study suggests.
A research team at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the United States assessed how the blood groups A, B and O reacted to the protein and found blood type A to be the most reactive. “It is interesting that the viral RBD only really prefers the type of blood group A antigens that are on respiratory cells, which are presumably how the virus is entering most patients and infecting them,” says Dr. Sean Stowell, an associate professor of pathology, in a statement. “Blood type is a challenge because it is inherited and not something we can change. But if we can better understand how the virus interacts with blood groups in people, we may be able to find new medicines or methods of prevention.”
Based on their observations, the team sought to determine whether a similar binding preference existed for the RBD of SARS-CoV, the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). Although the makeup of the virus differs, the SARS-CoV RBD showed the same preference to bind to the group A antigens on respiratory cells.
“Our observation is not the only mechanism responsible for what we are seeing clinically,” adds Stowell, “but it could explain some of the influence of blood type on COVID-19 infection.”
The study is published in the journal Blood Advances.
SWNS writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.