Interviewer: Dr. Stowell, thank you for taking the time today to discuss with us the role
of blood type in the susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Could you please outline how different blood types could
have a different response to viral infections?
Dr. Stowell: You bet. There have been studies in general suggesting that blood types can
potentially impact one's likelihood of getting an infection, before COVID.
These studies have suggested that the way that may occur is through
potential incorporation of blood group antigens
which reside on the membranes of cells in general,
not only on red cells
but also on the cell surface of our lungs and other cells as well.
When viruses are made by those cells
the blood group antigens may become incorporated, especially in envelope viruses,
which accumulate some of the membrane on
the surface of our cells onto their surface. Those blood group antigens that
may be populated on the viral surface serve as
a target for antibodies that we make naturally, within the first few months of our life.
Everyone that's blood group O makes antibodies
spontaneously within the first few months of life against blood group A or blood group B.
The idea, or concept, that's been out there for
a long time is that if a blood group A person,
for example, was infected with a virus that's enveloped
(meaning that it has a membrane component to it), and that
membrane component had the blood group A or blood group B antigen on it, a blood group O
person's naturally-occurring antibodies (that are just being made regardless of viral exposure)
may be able to bind to the virus and prevent it from
infecting them. Or at least reduce the probability that it can infect them.