Blood group type A secretors are associated with a higher risk of COVID-19 cardiovascular disease complications

EJHaem. 2021 May;2(2):175-187. doi: 10.1002/jha2.180. Epub 2021 Apr 2.


The SARS-CoV-2 virus causes COVID-19, an infection capable of causing severe disease and death but which can also be asymptomatic or oligosymptomatic. We investigated whether ABO blood group or secretor status was associated with COVID-19 severity. We investigated secretor status because expression of ABO glycans on secreted proteins and non-erythroid cells are controlled by a fucosyltransferase (FUT2), and inactivating FUT2 mutations result in a non-secretor phenotype which protects against some viral infections. Data combined from healthcare records and our own laboratory tests (n = 275) of hospitalized SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction positive patients confirmed higher than expected numbers of blood group A individuals compared to O (RR = 1.24, CI 95% [1.05, 1.47], p = 0.0111). There was also a significant association between group A and COVID-19-related cardiovascular complications (RR = 2.56, CI 95% [1.43, 4.55], p = 0.0011) which is independent of gender. Molecular analysis revealed that group A non-secretors are significantly less likely to be hospitalized than secretors. Testing of convalescent plasma donors, among whom the majority displayed COVID-19 symptoms and only a small minority required hospitalization, group A non-secretors were slightly over-represented. Our findings showed that group A non-secretors are not resistant to infection by SARS-CoV-2, but are more likely to experience a less severe form of associated disease.