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Your blood type could offer some protection against COVID symptoms

Doctors say that no one should think their type means they shouldn't practice social distancing and wear a mask.

NEW ORLEANS — We are learning more and more who is at risk for getting very sick from the coronavirus.

Doctors see that seniors, men, and people with conditions like diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are more at risk.

Now new studies are bringing to light a whole different risk factor. 

There's a new health question that is becoming more important during the pandemic.

Do you know your blood type?

Several people we asked Friday did not know theirs. 

Two new studies suggest people with type O blood are less likely to catch the coronavirus, and people with type O and type B are less likely to get severely ill, while people with type A or type AB were more likely to go on a ventilator, have organ failure and stay in the ICU longer 

“About 40 to 50 percent of all people are of blood type O, so this is probably one of the reasons why we see so much asymptomatic COVID-19,” explained Dr. Jim Diaz, Professor of Public Health at LSU Health Sciences Center, where he is Head of Environmental and Occupational Health.

Dr. Diaz says type Os and Bs have antibodies against A. So if they got a transfusion of A or AB blood, their immune systems would fight it. So what does that have to do with keeping this coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, from hijacking your cells?

 “We suspect that the mechanism is the anti-A antibody prevents the binding of SARS-CoV-2 to its receptor in the lungs and elsewhere, he said.

 So should type As and ABs be vaccinated first along with other high risk groups?

“And just think about it, if we vaccinate all the high risk people, and we vaccinate all those people who are A and AB, and those people who have diabetes, and heart disease, and the elderly, now we're vaccinating the high risk part of the population who get COVID-19. And we're protecting everybody else, so that's when we're getting close to herd immunity,” said Dr. Diaz who explained that the U.S. is nowhere near herd immunity yet. 

An LSU Health study found that type Os and Bs also are less likely to get blood clots from COVID-19 because of lower levels of clotting factors in the blood. 

So do you know your blood type?

“Yes, A positive,” answered a man.

“Yes, I work in the medical field,” said a woman.

“When I go back to the doctor next week, I’ll make sure I find out what it is,” said a woman who told us earlier that she did not know her blood type.

Doctors say nothing is 100 percent protective, so type Os and Bs still need to protect themselves because they can still get sick.