Blood Types and Covid: Does Your Blood Type Make You Less Vulnerable to Covid?

Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

There are rumors floating around in the ocean of covid information and misinformation about the connection between COVID-19 and blood types. You may have heard that blood type O is less likely to catch covid. It certainly piqued my interest when I heard it. So, what’s true? What’s the science behind blood types and covid? Is type O safer? Says who? What about severity? Are any blood types more susceptible? I looked into it with all these questions about covid and blood types in mind, starting with…

What even are blood types?

To be honest, I didn’t know my own blood type until I had a baby last year. I’m O positive, by the way. Until recently, I never bothered to look up what that means. Fun fact for my fellow O positives, we are popular. Apparently, 37.4% of the population is O positive, making us the majority. If you’re curious about your blood type, here are the population stats:

Blood TypeOccurrence in PeopleFrequency
O+1 in 337.4%
O-1 in 15 6.6%
A+1 in 335.7%
A-1 in 16 6.3%
Source: Stanford Blood Center
Blood TypeOccurrence in PeopleFrequency
B+1 in 12 8.5%
B-1 in 671.5%
AB+1 in 293.4%
AB-1 in 1670.6%
Source: Stanford Blood Center

This chart does not provide any information about a connection between blood types and covid. However, it does speak to all the rare blood types out there, and it’s saying “please donate!” All you O negatives, you’re the most in demand because you are the only universal donor.

Speaking from personal experience...I lost one fourth of my body's entire blood content at once when I gave birth. I'm forever grateful to whomever donated that bag of blood used for my transfusion.

so, How do blood types relate to covid?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in late 2019, researchers have administered many population-based studies on the standard risk factors, including age, obesity, preexisting medical conditions, race, ethnicity, and sex. They have even investigated blood types as risk factors for covid.

This is not a new hypothesis to test, and blood type has been determined a valid risk factor in several disease processes, including infectious diseases. Blood types have been linked to bacterial and viral infections before; therefore, it’s not a stretch to assume that it might be a risk factor for covid as well.

What are people saying about blood types and covid, and what is true?

As everyone knows, social media platforms like Facebook and TikTok have algorithms, and those algorithms know what you like and how to show it to you. If, like me, you’re impatient and a fan of instant gratification, TikTok is the app for you. In 2020, the algorithm picked up, pretty quickly, that I was consuming covid news like chocolate cake.

For quite some time now, I have seen several posts, both serious and satire, talking about the link between covid and blood types. Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that type O blood is significantly less likely to catch covid than the other blood types. Of course, there were a few posts, often from the POV of a hospital bed with captions like, “I’m type O, and I got covid” that stated the contrary. Now we should ask the very vital question, “where is the thin line of truth in the nonsense?”

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) published a study on July 18, 2021 from the Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection about the relationship between blood type and covid infection (CLICK HERE to read). The question addressed was the same I’ve been discussing, the conclusion was (surprise, surprise!) significantly more convoluted than the videos on TikTok.

What do the studies say about blood types and covid?

What I learned is that there have been nine large studies on the correlation between blood type and covid-related illness, and most of them report that there is an association between the two. Eight of them reported association. Four of them found some blood types to be more severely affected by covid while five of them did not.

You may be asking, “what does that mean?” Well, it means that the studies were inconsistent. However, what they did find is plenty of very important information about covid and some overlapping trends. For example, several studies showed that type A might be more susceptible of infection while type O and Rh-negative groups may not be. Ultimately, the studies as a collective came to one important conclusion for now…

“At this point in time, there does not appear to be any relationship between blood type and COVID-19-related severity of illness or mortality. Current literature does not support blood type as a part of a predictive model of viral illness or mortality…”

PMCID: PMC8286549

is your blood type more or less vulnerable to covid?

Is type O less vulnerable to covid? The answer for now is no, and I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned here. If I placed all my trust in TikTok trends and shackled it to my mental vault as fact, I’d have assumed my husband, my son, and myself were all safe from covid because we all have O blood types, but I’d be wrong.

If you’re out there thinking you are covid-proof because you have a variation of the O blood type, please be careful. There is not yet nearly enough information on the blood types as a risk factor for covid, and no one is invincible.

Disclaimer: All the information in this article comes from a reputable, peer-reviewed source published by a medical journal. Nothing has been interpreted by myself or anyone other than medical professionals.

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Source:

  • Kim Y, Latz CA, DeCarlo CS, et al. Relationship between blood type and outcomes following COVID-19 infection [published online ahead of print, 2021 Jul 18]. Semin Vasc Surg. 2021;doi:10.1053/j.semvascsurg.2021.05.005

Netflix Says I’m Depressed, TikTok Says It’s Just ADHD

These days, TikTok has become my source for all things at all times. Our short attention spans, need for instant gratification, and handheld super computers called, and TikTok answered with just the right dose of information overload.

In 2020, while pregnant and quarantining, Netflix and TikTok became my socialization, my only connection to the outside world. It’s so sad, honestly.

I went to TikTok to learn what was going on out there from through the people living it, and I turned to Netflix to escape the reality of it (shoutout to the Tiger King). Of course, 2020 eventually breached Netflix and now there’s hardly any escape (except old episodes of Real Housewives, a guilty pleasure).

I got a hard dose of reality when I watched Bo Burnham’s special, Inside, on Netflix.

Thanks Bo Burnham…

If you haven’t watched Inside yet, go do it, or, well, maybe don’t do it. Actually, evaluate your mental stability at the moment, and if you feel like you’re in a good, strong place, go watch it. If you are feeling particularly pessimistic about the future and angry about 2020, it’s probably not the right time for you.

No one knows how to use poignant lyrics added to a catchy melody to punch you right in the feels quite like Bo. “Look Who’s Inside Again,” “That Funny Feeling,” and “All Eyes on Me” really hit home. When the special ended, I found myself in tears, and thinking…”did 2020 break me? Am I depressed now? Do I need help?”

Then TikTok stepped in and said, “eh, maybe it’s just a little pandemic stress mixed with some ADHD.”

TikTok, How Did I Get Here?

For those who know nothing about TikTok, I’ll give you a quick overview of how you end up down the rabbit hole. Your FYP (For You Page) is a stream of videos curated just for you by an algorithm that monitors your likes, comments, and shares. The more you like videos of similar content, the more you will see them on your FYP.

Simply watching a video to the end or sharing it with a friend will trigger the algorithm. Beware: you can accidentally end up on some dark sides of Tiktok…paranormal-tok, for example, which can get a little dicey if you run into it late at night while scrolling in the dark, or worse, underwhelming dance trend-tok. It’s hard to get out once it’s gotten you.

Anyway, this is how I ended up on ADHD-tok. What I found actually surprised me. I’m a 35 year old woman. I grew up in an age when young boys were the only ones getting an ADD or ADHD diagnosis. My brother had ADD; my cousin had ADHD. Both were physically hyperactive.

I was a relatively quiet, self-reflective kid with a hypersensitivity to everything around me. As an adult, I’m still self-reflective and hypersensitive…not very quiet anymore. I started coming across videos with prompts like…”Feel mentally paralyzed when you have too much to do?”, “Wait until the last minute to do everything?”, “Get angry for no reason?”

Of course I answered yes to them all…hit the like button, but this isn’t something special. I’m an older millennial…over-educated, drowning in student debt, and underpaid. We’re all like this, a little depressed, moody, anxious.

Then the TikTok doctors and therapists weighed in. They said, “wait a minute…you might have ADHD.”

The Age of Self-Diagnosis

At this point, you might be asking yourself, “do I have ADHD? How do I know?” First of all, a lot of women have gone undiagnosed for a long time because ADHD manifests differently in us. We tend to internalize much more, making the hyperactivity more mental as opposed to external.

Here are just a few of the potential missed symptoms that I learned while surfing the waves of ADHD TikTok:

  • driving quickly and impatiently,
  • frequent thoughts about changing jobs,
  • lying to avoid shame or conflict,
  • impulsive spending,
  • extreme mood swings,
  • hypersensitivity to loud noises,
  • insomnia,
  • drifting in thought during conversation,
  • forgetting things you said,
  • interrupting others while they speak (I’m really bad about this one),
  • procrastination/struggling with time management,
  • frequent daydreaming,
  • trouble maintaining friendships,
  • feeling anxious/sad (very common in women), and
  • perfectionism.

Have you ever heard of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)? I hadn’t…but I have symptoms. People with DSPS have trouble falling asleep early, even when they try, and have a hard time waking up early. Apparently, it is a sign of ADHD.

So, What Now?

I will freely admit that I have ever sign of ADHD listed above, and I’ve had them for as long as I can remember. Doctors and therapists are catching this stuff daily now, and social media has actually been a great tool for helping people.

So, what’s the moral of this story? The lesson I learned is that awareness is everything! Providers with specialities who are on social media are creating amazing content and awareness. ADHD, for example, can be a superpower if you know what to do and how to operate in the world around you as a neurodivergent.

Dr. Kojo Sarfo (@dr.kojosarfo on TikTok) is a mental health expert with over 1.4 million followers. He posts everyday about topics like ADHD, OCD, body dysmorphia, and depression. He’s helping people, many of whom can’t afford healthcare, let alone mental healthcare.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Lindsay Fleming, LPC (@lindsay.fleminglpc on Tiktok) is a licensed therapist with expertise in ADHD, specifically in women. She has nearly 500,000 followers. Women are overwhelmingly misdiagnosed with depression and anxiety when ADHD is overlooked, and the information she provides can help us speak up for ourselves.

Shoutout to the thousands of doctors and healthcare professionals that are taking their knowledge to the internet and sharing it, free of charge! The awareness they bring is saving lives and getting us through this pandemic.

In All Seriousness…

We often joke and minimize mental health struggles in order to power through. White-knuckling our way through life is autopilot for some. For many of us, mental health is very much a daily struggle. We all need a little help sometimes; the last 18 months have thrown curveball after curveball at us. Hang in there, friends; you’re not alone.

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