Can your blood type and genes protect you from getting COVID-19?

A company that specializes in genomics and biotechnology researched the effects of blood type and genes when it comes to COVID-19 severity.

  • They said that though they have partial results that the blood type O has more a of a protective structure against the virus, the research is still ongoing.

23andMe is a personal genomics and biotechnology company that is probably best known for its home DNA testing kits where their consumers can learn about their ancestry.

However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the company decided to switch its gears a bit. They thought about a way on how their gene testing services could offer a helping hand in understanding the coronavirus.

One aspect of the disease that sparked the curiosity of scientists and clinicians alike is why, when infected with SARS-CoV-2, do some patients only display mild to moderate or no symptoms at all, while others develop severe symptoms that can be proven fatal.

23andMe questioned if genetics played a role in how the virus affects one’s body. Specific genes can render individuals as less or more susceptible to developing other infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria, and norovirus. The company has previously contributed to this field of research when they studied almost 60 genetic variants associated with one of 17 infectious diseases.

The company used their data and genes from additional volunteers to expand the project of identifying if genetic variants of a person’s genome are associated with the differences in COVID-19 severity.

“Opening up the research to individuals with more severe symptoms will increase our power to learn how genes play a role in the severity of this disease,” said Joyce Tung, Ph.D., 23andMe’s Vice President of Research.

After analyzing the data of over 750,000 individuals, it seems to lend further evidence to the notion that an individual’s blood type, determined by the ABO gene, is associated with differences in COVID-19 susceptibility.

23andMei is also exploring several studies that suggested that blood groups could be implicated in susceptibility and severity of the virus.

In its reported data set, the blood type O actually showed a protective effect against acquiring and being hospitalized for the disease. In the entire population, individuals with blood type O are 9 to 18 percent less likely to test positive against other groups.

The study is still ongoing as the researchers are hoping to find other information that can support the results that they found.

“Ultimately, we hope to publish our research findings in order to provide more insight into COVID-19 for the scientific community.”

Written by J M

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