Popular at-home genetics testing company 23andMe has found differences that people with different blood types have differently susceptible to falling prey to COVID-19. 23andMe started its study with over 750,000 participants in April. The company’s goal was to leverage the millions of DNA profiles they have collected over the years with their at-home testing kits to find a connection between the coronavirus and genes.
The preliminary results from the study suggest that participants with type O blood were more protected against the disease compared to others. Other findings from the study indicated a link between COVID-19 and the ABO gene, responsible for encoding proteins related to the first discovered blood group system, ABO.
“There have also been some reports of links between Covid-19, blood clotting, and cardiovascular disease. These reports provided some hints about which genes might be relevant,” lead researcher Adam Auton from the 23andMe study said.
The purpose of this study, and others conducted by 23andMe competitors such as Ancestry, is to find other connections other than age and health, in regards to how COVID-19 affects the body. Other studies have also suggested that blood type plays a major role in susceptibility towards the disease.
Another study conducted with over 1,600 patients who went through respiratory failure in Spain and Italy showed that type A blood had an increased chance that a patient would require a ventilator. However, I personally feel this study should be taken less seriously than the 23andMe study, due to the smaller number of participants.
“It’s early days; even with these sample sizes, it might not be enough to find genetic associations,” Auton said. “We’re not the only group looking at this, and ultimately the scientific community may need to pool their resources to really address questions surrounding the links between genetics and Covid-19.”
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