Genetic Variations and Blood Type May Leave Some People More Vulnerable to Severe COVID-19

A new study from European scientists has found that genes may leave some people more vulnerable to severe cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.

The study, which is currently undergoing a peer review, found genetic variations at two spots in the human genome that are associated with a greater risk of respiratory failure in coronavirus patients.

The first spot is a gene that determines blood types. Researchers concluded that patients with Type A blood were 50 percent more likely to need to get oxygen or go on a ventilator.

The second spot, showing a stronger link to COVID-19 than the first, was on Chromosome 3 but the team of scientists are not yet sure which of the six genes on the chromosome has an impact on coronavirus.

Dr. Andre Franke, one of the study’s co-authors, told The New York Times that no one knows why Type A blood is linked to an increased risk of developing severe coronavirus symptoms, though a previous study from China found the same link.

“That is haunting me, quite honestly,” Franke said.

Previously released risk factors for developing severe COVID-19 include being elderly or immunocompromised. Several studies have also found that obesity may be a risk factor, particularly in young people.

One large study of 4,000 COVID-19 patients at NYU Langone Hospital in New York City found that obesity was the second-highest reason why patients were hospitalized with COVID-19.

Another, separate study from NYU Langone found that patients under 60 years old with a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 34 were twice as likely to be admitted to the hospital with severe cases of COVID-19, and 1.8 times more likely to need treatment in the intensive care unit.

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