People with A, B blood groups and Rh+ more vulnerable to Covid-19, says new study

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A new study suggests that people with blood group A, B and those with Rh factor (Rhesus factor) positive are more “susceptible to Covid-19 infection” compared to those having O or AB group and Rh negative. The study was conducted by the doctors at a Delhi hospital, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital.

A statement released by Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH) on Tuesday reveals that the research was conducted on a total of 2,586 Covid-positive patients. They tested patients who were admitted to the hospital from April 8 to October 4 in 2020 through real-time PCR (RT-PCR). The study was carried by the Department of Research and Department of Blood Transfusion Medicine at the SGRH. It has been published in the November 21 edition of ‘Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology’.

The study says that “people having blood groups A, B and Rh+ are more susceptible to Covid-19 infection whereas (those with) O, AB and Rh- are at lower risk of Covid-19 infection.” The research also claims that “there is no association between blood groups, and susceptibility to severity of disease as well as mortality.”

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The Rh factor or the Rhesus factor is a protein that is present on the surface of red blood cells (RBCs). Simply put, the positive or negative sign next to our blood groups denotes the Rh factor. So, if you have a positive blood type, this means that the blood cells have the Rh protein. If you have a negative blood type, then the blood cells lack the Rh protein.

“Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 is a new virus, and it is unclear whether blood groups have any impact on Covid-19 risk or progression. Therefore, we investigated the association of ABO and Rh blood group with Covid-19 susceptibility, prognosis, recovery time, and mortality in this study,” Dr Rashmi Rana, Consultant, Department of Research, SGRH, said in a statement. The patients also had to go through a follow-up till their last date of admission as either discharged or deceased during the study, the hospital authorities said.

According to Dr Vivek Ranjan, co-author and Chairperson, Department of Blood Transfusion, SGRH, “We also found that male patients of blood group B are more prone to Covid-19 than the female patients with blood group B, and blood group AB was observed to be more susceptible to infection in patients with age group of over 60 years.”

The study also claims that blood group A and Rh + types are associated with a decrease in the recovery period, whereas blood group O and Rh- are associated with an increase in the recovery period. “However, the ABO and/or Rh blood groups may not be responsible for this association, as these may indicate an unexplored underlying factor like co-morbidity. Therefore, larger, multicentre and prospective studies are needed to ascertain the relationship between blood groups and SARS-CoV-2,” the research adds.

(With inputs from PTI)

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