New Oklahoma Blood Institute, Harvard research gives insight into blood types and likelihood to catch COVID-19

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Early on in the pandemic, we heard that your blood type might impact whether or not you’re more likely to contract COVID-19. Now, new research from Harvard University and Oklahoma Blood Institute (OBI) data shows how people with Type A blood are more likely to become infected.

Experts say the findings they’ve made in Oklahoma are just another piece of the puzzle as they’ve worked to solve this virus.

“It’s real, it’s on the ground and now it’s getting us a little bit of understanding of what’s causing it,” said Dr. John Armitage with the OBI.

The Oklahoma Blood Institute began providing free antibody testing to blood donors in July.

Dr. Armitage says they saw a larger number of donors with type A or AB blood types have COVID-19 antibodies – as compared to those with type O.

“So we saw a 2.5% difference in the results we get back from those two different types of donors,” he said.

Now, researchers at Harvard have an explanation as to why Type-As are getting COVID-19 at this slightly higher rate.

“So the As have a substance very similar to their A blood group that’s lining their lungs and their bronchi and respiratory tract,” Armitage said.

He says, in simple terms – Type As provide a stickier environment for COVID-19 to cling to, causing infection. 

“If you think of a family – maybe somebody picks up the virus in a family from an event or they’ve been traveling together – maybe it’s a married couple and somebody gets the infection and the other doesn’t – it might be related to blood group, somebody might be more susceptible with that A,” Armitage said.

Armitage says everyone should still take the COVID-19 precautions we know no matter their blood type.

OBI provides free antibody testing and blood type detection to blood donors.

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