Covid infection risk more likely depending on blood type, experts warn

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Some people may have a lower risk of infection from Covid than others based on their blood type

Covid infections are still rising across the UK and have reached a record high, new figures show.

The latest data from the ZOE Covid study app show an average of 351,000 people are contracting the virus each day, up from the previous record of 350,000 daily infections set in late March this year.

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Professor Tim Spector, the lead scientist behind the research, said one in 15 people in the UK currently have the virus and it is expected that daily infections will rise even higher to almost 400,000 per day before numbers start to decline.

Cases are already beginning to plateau in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but are still rising in England, with the recent surge being driven by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

Despite the rapid rise in cases, some people have still managed to avoid infection and it is thought that your blood type could have something to do with it.

People may be more or less susceptible to Covid infection depending on their blood type (Composite: Mark Hall / NationalWorld)People may be more or less susceptible to Covid infection depending on their blood type (Composite: Mark Hall / NationalWorld)
People may be more or less susceptible to Covid infection depending on their blood type (Composite: Mark Hall / NationalWorld) | Mark Hall / NationalWorld

Can blood type lower the risk of Covid infection?

Studies suggest that people may be more or less susceptible to Covid infection depending on their blood type.

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Blood types and susceptibility to infection from coronavirus was first hypothesised by researchers in China back in March 2020, and these ideas were echoed by a study from Columbia University a month later.

The theory has been further supported by DNA testing company 23andMe. The company was able to link customers and Covid infections among 750,000 people who were diagnosed and hospitalised for the virus, with findings showing those with type O blood types were better protected.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed the idea and found that people with blood type A had a 45% increased risk of being infected with Covid compared to other blood types.

Findings again concluded that blood type O are 35% less likely to be infected.

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The research states: “Nongenetic studies that were reported as preprints have previously implicated the involvement of ABO blood groups in Covid-19 susceptibility, and ABO blood groups have also been implicated in susceptibility to SARS-CoV-1 infection.

“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.”

Researchers are now confirming that blood type can have a significant impact on the likelihood of catching Covid, with people with type A thought to be more susceptible and those with type O having a lower risk.

While research suggests people with type O are less vulnerable to infection, it does not mean they are completely immune and with case numbers currently at a record high, health experts are urging people to be cautious and stay at home if they experience symptoms.

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What symptoms should I look for?

A headache is now the most reported Covid symptom in the UK, according to the ZOE Covid app, with more than two in three people reported suffering with this before getting a positive test.

The app has also identified the following as key signs of infection:

  • runny nose
  • a sore throat
  • persistent cough
  • fatigue (mild and severe)

The more “old fashioned” Covid symptoms have now dropped much further down the rankings, including a fever, and a loss or change to sense of smell or taste.

Prof Spector said face masks and self-isolation are key to keeping infection levels down and has warned people to be cautious.

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He said: “Wearing masks and isolating for a minimum of five days if you get the virus. If you’re not testing, you should assume it’s Covid at the moment because it’s far more prevalent than anything else out there.

“It’s much more likely to be Covid than a summer cold.”

Dame Dr Jenny Harries, one of the UK’s most senior health officials, has also advised people to keep their distance from others where possible and wear a face mask in enclosed, poorly ventilated places to help reduce the risk of spreading infection.

NHS guidance recommends that you stay at home and avoid contact with others if you experience any Covid symptoms or feel unwell.

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