DNA can make people with type A blood who get coronavirus 50% more likely to need oxygen or ventilator support, the study suggests
- An international team of researchers sequenced the genomes of more than 1,600 seriously ill coronavirus patients in Italy and Spain
- They found two areas of DNA that were more common in these patients than in 2,205 people who did not receive COVID-19
- People with coronavirus and a gene variant encoding type A blood were 50% more likely to become so ill that they needed to breathe
- Similar findings were previously reported in China, where researchers compared blood types of seriously ill patients, but not sequences genomes
- How to help people affected by Covid-1
Another study has found a link between the risk of severe coronavirus infection and type A blood, and researchers believe that genetics can make six percent of people with blood type more vulnerable.
Higher rates of severe disease from COVID-19 among people with type A blood were first reported by researchers in China.
Now, a team of German researchers at the University of Kiel scouring the human genome to determine pieces of DNA that can predispose humans to severe COVID-19 has found a common genetic root shared by many of these patients and those with type A blood .
These patients were 50 percent more likely to need oxygen support or to put on mechanical ventilators, compared to those with other blood types.
It can help explain why some people who are young, otherwise healthy and do not have the risks that underlying diseases still become critically ill and even die of coronavirus.
People with severe coronavirus and genes encoding type A blood were 50% more likely to need oxygen or ventilator support, compared to people with other blood types (file)
Hospitals in the United States have reported that as many as 40 percent of their coronavirus patients are young people, in their 40s, 50s, 20s and 30s.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 30 percent of patients admitted during the week ending May 30 were between the ages of 18 and 49 years.
Researchers are still struggling to assess who is known in this age group who is at risk for severe infection.
A suspect is their genetics.
After looking for this, the team at the University of Kiel and their international partners have been flooding DNA samples from Italian and Spanish patients who have been in respiratory failure after receiving a coronavirus.
The sequenced genomes of 1,610 patients from seven severely affected cities in the two countries.
They searched for patterns in these genomes, common themes in genetic variation that could point to a DNA basis for these patients to become life-threatening patients.
By comparing these genomes to those of 2,205 people who did not become seriously ill, the researchers maintained two points along the genome.
The more notable of the two throughput they identified was one that codes for human blood types.
And the variant that underlies type A blood was much more common among severely ill COVID-19 patients.
People who had Type A blood were 50 percent more likely to be so ill that they needed oxygen support or even putting on a ventilator.
Type O blood, on the other hand, was associated with a lower likelihood of serious illness.
The strange link between type A blood and severe COVID-19 was first identified in China, but this information may have just reflected a deviation.
Researchers still don’t know for sure whether this gene variant leading to type A blood would make anyone more susceptible to coronavirus.
But it may be related to the immune system.
An immune response without control is responsible for inflammation that overwhelms the lungs and other organs as the body tries to fight coronavirus.
The immune response – triggered by the so-called ‘cytokine storm’ which consists of an abundance of these immune signal cells – is often what ultimately kills victims of coronavirus and works in tandem with the infection itself.
A gene encoding an immune system that signals protein is also a neighbor of the DNA bit encoding type A blood.
It is not a definitive link, but will be worth investigating.