06/15 News Flash 1: Some genes and blood types may put you at risk for COVID-19

Art by Sophia Zhao.

Can scientists predict how severely you’ll respond to COVID-19? A large coalition of researchers from Spain and Italy, studying DNA of patients from their countries’ epicenters, might have found a key clue in our genes and blood types. 

To do this, the team conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS). They screened for over eight million mutations at specific nucleotides, between 1980 COVID-19 patients and 2205 healthy controls. They found that patients with such mutations at a specific region on the short arm of the 3rd chromosome were up to seventy-seven percent more likely to develop severe respiratory failure. 

Moreover, type O blood patients were thirty-five percent less susceptible to respiratory failure, while type A blood patients were forty-five percent more susceptible. 

The researchers weren’t able to identify exactly how these genes and blood types affect susceptibility, but their findings mark an important step forward in our abilities to assess patient risk and determine exactly how COVID-19 causes its damage.