COVID-19: Blood group as a risk factor for severe illnesses

COVID-19: Blood group as a risk factor for severe illnesses

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Does genetics affect COVID-19 history?

A new COVID-19 study shows that an infected person's blood type appears to affect the course of the disease. According to the study, people with blood type O have a lower risk of a severe course than people with blood type A positive.

Researchers from Oslo and Kiel have found evidence that the severity of the COVID-19 course of the disease apparently also relates to the blood group. Accordingly, people with blood group A positive have a higher risk of severe courses than other blood groups. Blood group 0 even seems to have a protective function. The study can be viewed as a preliminary version on the medical preprint server "medRxiv".

Why do some people get sick more than others?

Breathing cessation is a key feature of critical COVID-19 courses and a decisive factor as to whether those affected are in mortal danger. Less than 10 percent of all SARS-CoV-2 infected people develop a severe course. It is still unclear in detail which factors contribute to making some people more ill than others. A German-Norwegian research team has now examined this difference in more detail. The team paid particular attention to genetics.

Large group with severe disease courses analyzed

The research group of the current study is made up of leading human genetic scientists from Oslo and Kiel. The team examined the data from around 4,000 COVID-19 sufferers with severe courses. The data were collected during major outbreaks in Italy and Spain.

What influence does genetics have on COVID-19?

The human geneticists wanted to find out whether certain genes occur more frequently in seriously ill people than on average in the population. One discovered an area in the genome that encodes the blood group. The finding was confirmed in a subsequent blood group-specific analysis. The results show a higher risk of severe COVID-19 courses in people with blood group A and a lower risk for blood group 0.

How strong is the effect?

To put it simply, according to the study, it can be said that people with blood group A have an approximately 45 percent (odds ratio = 1.45) higher risk of developing a serious illness than the average (odds ratio = 1). People with blood group 0, on the other hand, seem to have a 35 percent lower risk of severe courses than the average (odds ratio = 0.65).

Blood type is just one factor among many

The virologist and coronavirus specialist Professor Dr. Christian Drosten considers the study to be relevant, even if it has only been released as a preliminary version. In the NDR podcast "Coronavirus Update", however, the expert emphasizes that there are also many other factors that influence the course of the disease, including, for example, age, existing underlying illnesses and the dose of infection that one got at the beginning of the illness. In addition, many factors that affect the course of the disease are still unknown.

Limitation of studies

As already mentioned above, the study has so far only been published as a preliminary version and has not yet been published in a renowned specialist journal. To do this, the study must first be assessed by international experts. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • David Ellinghaus, Frauke Degenhardt, Luis Bujanda, u.a .: The ABO blood group locus and a chromosome 3 gene cluster associate with SARS-CoV-2 respiratory failure in an Italian-Spanish genome-wide association analysis; in: medRxiv, 2020,
  • NDR: Coronavirus-Update (48) with Christian Drosten: There is glory in prevention (published: 11.06.2020),

Video: Who is Most At-Risk for Coronavirus COVID-19? McFarland Clinic (October 2022).