June 10, 2020 report
23andME reports people with type O blood less likely to get COVID-19
Representatives with 23andMe, a direct-to-consumer genetic testing service, have reported that people who have type O blood are slightly less likely to get COVID-19. The work has not yet been peer-reviewed, and their study has not been published in a journal.
On June 9, Anne Wojcicki, CEO of 23andMe, discussed the results of a study her company conducted on the television show "Bloomberg Technology" (rebroadcast on YouTube). During the interview, she reported that she and others at her company became curious after learning how different people have such wildly different symptoms when infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. They wondered if there might be a genetic component to the story. To learn more, she and her team carried out a study this past April that involved surveying customers regarding their experiences with COVID-19. The team received surveys back from approximately 750,000 customers. Analysis of that data showed that people with type O blood were between 9 and 18% less likely to test positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus than people with other blood types. She noted that their findings held when adjusted for sex, body mass and age. She also noted that her team did not find any other blood-type-related differences.
This is not the first time the company has conducted research—three years ago, a team at the company published results of a study in the journal Nature Communications reporting that nearly 60% of genetic variants in humans could be associated with susceptibility to one of 17 types of infectious diseases.
In another interview, Adam Auton, lead researcher on the COVID-19 research team, told Fox News that reports by other groups suggesting cardiovascular disease and blood clotting may also play a role in disease severity also hint at a genetic component to the pandemic. He also noted that it is still early in the study of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and that there is much more to learn. He suggests that researchers in different disciplines may wind up pooling resources to understand why the virus has such dramatically different impacts on different people.
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