HOUSTON – We are learning more about why some people might get very sick from COVID-19 and others don’t have symptoms at all. As more people get COVID-19, researchers are using that data to learn more about the virus. We are seeing that more men are getting sick and also that blood type might make a difference too.
“Clinically it’s very hard to predict who is going to get a very mild illness and who is going to end up in the ICU on a ventilator,” said Luis Ostrosky, MD, UTHealth.
Blood type and COVID-19
While it’s hard to predict, the cases so far are giving us clues about blood types.
“We’ve always seen this relationship between blood type and COVID and this is the first data that shows there’s maybe some relationship to the immune system and the genetic response to immune response,” said Dr. Ostrosky.
They’ve found people with Type A blood have a higher risk of getting COVID-19. Type O is associated with a lower risk. But doctors warn this is not the only factor.
“By no means should you be feeling extra paranoid because you have an A blood type and nonchalant if you have an O one,” said Dr. Ostrosky. “This is one piece of the puzzle but not the driver of who gets sick.”
Gender and COVID-19
Another piece of the puzzle could be your gender. Data from around the world shows men may face a greater risk of severe COVID-19 illness. In China, 3 out of 4 hospitalized patients were male. In Italy, 82% of ICU patients were men.
One possible reason — male hormones such as testosterone appear to boost the virus’s ability to get inside cells.
“I see a future where we could be tapping your genes when you come into the hospital to see if you are going to do poorly or not,” explained Dr. Ostrosky.
There is also research that shows minorities tend to be more likely to get COVID-19. It’s not necessarily a genetic factor but could be a social one.