People should not believe they are more protected, or at greater risk, for contracting covid-19 or suffering worse effects from the coronavirus because of their blood type, a doctor with Allegheny Health Network says.
“We already know with covid patients there are a multitude of other factors that will predispose one person over the next,” said Dr. Amit Kaura, division chief of critical care medicine and medical director of the medical and burn intensive care units at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.
Those include men being at more risk than women, the elderly more than the young, and those with chronic health conditions more than those without.
Recent studies are suggesting a person’s blood type may play a role in contracting the virus and, once they have, who has a more serious case.
Scientists who compared the genes of thousands of patients in Europe found that those with Type A blood were more likely to have severe disease, while those with Type O were less likely, according to an Associated Press report.
Kaura, who also serves as medical intensive care unit director at Jefferson Hospital, said the issue of covid-19 and blood type has not been examined in the Pittsburgh area, and studies that have been done so far “should be taken with a little grain of salt.”
One theory, he said, is that Type O blood has more antibodies than Type A, making those with Type O blood more prone to fighting off infections. Another has to do with genetic markers and what the virus latches on to so it may enter cells.
“We do know there is a connection between genetic markers and blood types and people’s response to infections. That goes back to any infectious process,” he said. “They just looked at patients who were severely infected with covid and critically ill versus everybody else. They didn’t break it down between those who were severely ill versus not severely ill, or people with covid compared to people without covid. There’s a flaw in the methodology from that standpoint.
But that’s not to say there isn’t a relationship at all, he said.
“The study does show a correlation between certain blood types and the severity and risk for infection. More studies are going to need to be done to help delineate what that correlation is,” he said.
Dr. Graham Snyder, UPMC’s medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology, said the relationship between blood type and the virus is an important lead they will follow.
But, for now, he said the fundamentals are the same.
“We wouldn’t do anything different right now to protect individuals based on their blood type alone,” Snyder said. “We don’t yet know that there are treatment or patient management differences that would benefit one blood type or the other. It’s something scientifically we want to continue to explore and may help explain how the virus causes disease.
“That information doesn’t change how we protect ourselves, protect those in our communities and take care of our patients.”
While Kaura said he does not yet see any practical use of the studies on covid-19 and blood type, as more research is done, it could help doctors identify which patients are at greatest risk for serious
“If there’s going to be any benefit, that’s what it will be, but it will be later down the road,” he said.
At this time, Kaura stressed it’s important that residents do not change their behavior based on their blood type.
“Everybody has to do their due diligence and continue to wear their face coverings and continue to practice social distancing and hand hygiene,” he said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, email@example.com or via Twitter .
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