PLoS ONE (Jan 2021)

Does blood type affect the COVID-19 infection pattern?

  • Mattia Miotto,
  • Lorenzo Di Rienzo,
  • Giorgio Gosti,
  • Edoardo Milanetti,
  • Giancarlo Ruocco

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 5
p. e0251535


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Among the many aspects that characterize the COVID-19 pandemic, two seem particularly challenging to understand: i) the great geographical differences in the degree of virus contagiousness and lethality that were found in the different phases of the epidemic progression, and, ii) the potential role of the infected people's blood type in both the virus infectivity and the progression of the disease. A recent hypothesis could shed some light on both aspects. Specifically, it has been proposed that, in the subject-to-subject transfer, SARS-CoV-2 conserves on its capsid the erythrocytes' antigens of the source subject. Thus these conserved antigens can potentially cause an immune reaction in a receiving subject that has previously acquired specific antibodies for the source subject antigens. This hypothesis implies a blood type-dependent infection rate. The strong geographical dependence of the blood type distribution could be, therefore, one of the factors at the origin of the observed heterogeneity in the epidemics spread. Here, we present an epidemiological deterministic model where the infection rules based on blood types are taken into account, and we compare our model outcomes with the exiting worldwide infection progression data. We found an overall good agreement, which strengthens the hypothesis that blood types do play a role in the COVID-19 infection.