Does blood type affect risk of getting coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Dr. Frank McGeorge answers viewer question about coronavirus

DETROIT – There’s a lot of information and misinformation out there about the coronavirus (COVID-19), so Local 4 is letting viewers submit questions so we can find verified answers.

Click here if you want to submit a question about the coronavirus.

Dr. Frank McGeorge wants to verify or refute any information about the coronavirus, but there are also some questions experts still don’t know the answer to. McGeorge is discussing them because acknowledging what we don’t know is just as important as verifying information so people don’t rely on incorrect answers.

Blood type

The story circulating about blood types and COVID-19 risk is a perfect example of the issues that come with the overwhelming amount of information we receive on a daily basis.

The link between blood type and COVID-19 came from a real research paper, but it was pulled from a website that made it available before it went through any scientific review.

“Blood type A makes you more susceptible to coronavirus" is the headline that was circulating the internet. Dr. McGeorge ran it through the Trust Index.

First, look at the source. The paper is from a pre-publication website, which means it hasn’t been fully peer-reviewed, vetted or published in a medical journal, making the information very preliminary.

The actual data on the paper shows the subjects were people admitted to three hospitals with COVID-19 in China. That’s important because if the data is true, it only applies to COVID-19 patients who require admission, and it doesn’t say anything about the changes of generally becoming infected based on blood type.

The conclusion of the paper was the there were a higher proportion of admitted individuals with type A blood than other blood types, but they also found a lower proportion of admitted people with type O blood. Does that really mean you’re at a special risk if you’re type A compared to type O?

No, it doesn’t. This study cannot be used to draw that type of conclusion.

Dr. McGeorge is giving this a “be careful” on the Trust Index. It’s unpublished information that has no application to people.

It’s premature to say blood type has any clear relationship to coronavirus risk. If it does turn out to be accurate, the only application might be to help doctors classify levels of risk in hospitalized patients.

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