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If You Have This Blood Type, Be Worried About Coronavirus

People with one blood type are more likely to get infected and become seriously ill.
Female Technician holding blood tube test, a rack of blood samples Tubes of patients in laboratory in the hospital.

Every day researchers are gaining a better understanding of COVID-19 and why some people get sicker than others. It has become clear that there is in fact a relationship between blood type and severity of illness, explaining why some people remain asymptomatic or experience mild symptoms, while others succumb to death. According to a new study published on Wednesday, people with one blood type have a higher risk of catching coronavirus and developing severe illness. 

The study, courtesy of a team of European scientists, published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine, claims that people with Type A blood are at an increased risk to the tune of 45 percent more than those with other blood types. People with Type O are 65 percent less likely to get sick than others. 

Confirmed By Genetic Data 

"Our genetic data confirm that blood group O is associated with a risk of acquiring COVID-19 that was lower than that in non-O blood groups, whereas blood group A was associated with a higher risk than non-A blood groups," says the study.

As part of the study researchers examined 1,900 severely ill coronavirus patients in Spain and Italy, comparing them to 2,300 people who were not sick. They were attempting to find DNA variations most common in the sickest patients. 

It isn't clear if blood type is a direct cause of the differences in susceptibility, or that someone's risk is affected by genetic changes that happen to be linked to blood type. 

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Other Studies Support Their Findings 

23andMe released a study earlier this month that came to a similar conclusion — that those with O blood type are between 9-18% percent less likely than individuals with other blood types to have tested positive for COVID-19. 

"Preliminary data from 23andMe's ongoing genetic study of COVID-19 appears to lend more evidence for the importance of a person's blood type—determined by the ABO gene—in differences in the susceptibility to the virus," the company revealed in a blog post

Another study out of China also concluded that the blood type determining gene, ABO, may determine not only susceptibility to the virus but also the severity of illness. 

If You Do Have Type A Blood, Don't Worry Too Much

Roy Silverstein, a hematologist who is the chairman of the department of medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and a past president of the American Society of Hematology, explained to CNN that the findings mean very little for the average person as the overall risk for the entire population isn't significant. 

"The absolute difference in risk is very small," he said. "The risk reduction may be statistically significant, but it is a small change in actual risk. You never would tell somebody who was Type O that they were at smaller risk of infection," he said. As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.

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