People with type O blood may be less likely to get diagnosed with the coronavirus, according to a recent study — but millions are clueless as to what blood type they actually have.
There are eight main blood types and O+ and A+ are the most common, accounting for around 65 per cent of all people in the UK, the NHS says.
The rarest is AB-, found in only one per cent of blood donors in Britain, along with AB+ and B-, which each make up two per cent of donors.
Finding out someone’s blood type is a done through a simple procedure called ABO typing that requires a blood sample to be analysed in a laboratory.
NHS Blood and Transplant does this for free for everyone who gives blood through its official donation system, with donors receiving their information about a week later. And people who have had their blood taken in hospital may be able to ask their doctor what their blood type is.
But do-it-yourself tests are also available online for as little as £8, while private clinics will test and analyse people’s blood for a one-off fee or around £70.
Here, MailOnline reveals some of the options available in Britain for finding out your blood type.
People who donate blood to the NHS will be told their blood type shortly after their donation, for free, by NHS Blood and Transplant (stock image)
HOW COMMON IS EACH BLOOD TYPE?
There are eight main blood types and O+ and A+ are the most common, accounting for around 65 per cent of all people in the UK, according to the NHS.
This is how common each type is among people who donate blood in the UK:
- O positive: 35%
- O negative: 13%
- A positive: 30%
- A negative: 8%
- B positive: 8%
- B negative: 2%
- AB positive: 2%
- AB negative: 1%
Give blood or ask your doctor, NHS (Free)
The NHS’s blood donation scheme tells all donors their personal blood type after the give their first sample.
Run by NHS Blood and Transplant, a specialised arm of the health service, the programme collects blood from healthy donors to keep in NHS supplies.
Donors can make appointments online to attend donation sessions, where a trained medic will insert a needle into a vein in their arm and drain around 470ml of blood.
Donated blood is used for life-saving transfusions for people who lose a lot of blood during major surgery or through massive injuries in traffic accidents, for example, as well as those with long-term illnesses such as kidney disease or sickle cell disease.
The blood bank must make sure it has all types of blood because they are not all cross-compatible.
Someone with O+ blood, for example, cannot receive a transfusion with anything other than O-type blood. And O- people can only receive O- blood.
To make sure they have sufficient stocks the NHS tests each blood type when a sample is received, and the donor is then told their blood type about a week after they donate, the NHS says.
People who have had blood taken in the past by a doctor, during hospital treatment for example, can also ask their doctor to tell them their blood type if it is known.
Giving blood is free but the NHS warned it has seen a surge in the numbers of people signing up during the coronavirus crisis, meaning donors are now having to wait longer to get involved.
Blood types are important because people who receive transfusions, because of disease or serious injury, can only receive blood from certain types of donors, depending on each person’s blood type. Not all are cross-compatible
DIY testing kit, Amazon (£7.99)
For people who don’t want to donate blood, DIY testing kits are available online which can reveal someone’s blood type.
One of the most common is the Eldon Blood Typing Kit, which is for sale on Amazon for £7.95 per kit.
These tests work using a simple finger-prick method which was originally designed to be used on the spot by trained medics, such as in a battlefield hospital or in countries with poor healthcare services, but are easy enough to use at home.
The user should use a small lancet to prick their finger and then push blood out of it, before collecting a sample on a small swab.
The swab is then rubbed onto four separate patches of reagents – chemicals which aim to produce a reaction – which will then change colour and pattern according to the blood type, which can be interpreted with a card.
DIY blood type tests are available on Amazon from just £7.99. The Eldon test (pictured) is one of the most popular online
Private clinic, London (£72.80)
Private clinics will test people’s blood for a one-off fee, but these are considerably more expensive than DIY tests.
They are, however, likely to be more accurate because the blood is collected by a medical professional and the results analysed by a doctor.
The London Doctors Clinic, a private provider, offers the service for £72.80 in the capital.
The clinic says: ‘Knowing your blood group can save essential time in case of emergency, whereby an urgent blood transfusion may be necessary.’
It offers the service at 10 locations across the city and says results are available by email within two days after a sample has been collected by a phlebotomist.
London Doctors Clinic offers the service for £72.80 at any of 10 clinics across the capital
Private clinic, UK-wide (£71-£101)
Private medically-done tests are also available from clinics across the UK that will collect people’s blood samples and have experts analyse them.
The website medichecks offers an ABO blood typing service costing £71-100 which can be done at one of dozens of clinics across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
If the blood is collected by a professional at a clinic, a £31 surcharge is applied, taking the total cost to £101.
Alternatively, people can have a medical professional who they know – such as a nurse or doctor who is a family member of friend – take the blood for them.
This test says it takes three working days from when the clinic receives the blood.
The private company medichecks offers to test people’s blood type for between £71 and £101 per patient, depending on whether or not they require a professional to take their blood sample
Could your blood type help protect you from coronavirus? People with Type O are nearly 20% LESS likely to test positive for COVID-19, 23andMe study of 750,000 people finds
Having a certain blood type may help protect you against the novel coronavirus, preliminary data from a new study suggests.
Researchers at genetic testing company 23andMe found that people with type O blood were up to 18 percent less likely to test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Additionally, those who had the blood type, and had been exposed, were up to 26 percent less likely to contract coronavirus.
The team says this indicates a link between the genes that determined blood type and the virus.
A new study found that people with type O blood were between 9% and 18% less likely than those with other blood types to test positive for coronavirus (pictured)
Those with O-type blood who had been exposed to the virus were between 13% and 26% less likely to test positive (pictured)
Researchers say this indicates a link between variations in the ABO gene, which determines blood type, and COVID-19. Pictured: Punches of donated blood in a hospital
For the study, the team recruited more than 750,000 participants, including 10,000 who reported having COVID-19.
Individuals with type O blood were between nine and 18 percent less likely than those with other blood types to test positive.
About 1.3 percent of 23andMe research participants with type O blood tested positive for COVID-19.
By comparison, 1.4 percent of those with type A blood and 1.5 percent of people with type B or type AB blood were confirmed to have the virus.
People with O-type blood who had been exposed to the virus, such as frontline health workers, were between 13 and 26 percent less likely to test positive.
Among those exposed, 3.2 percent with type O blood tested positive compared to 3.9 percent of people with type A blood, four percent with type B blood and 4.1 percent with type AB blood.
The findings, which have yet to be peer reviewed or published in a medical journal, held when adjusted for factors such as age, sex, body mass index and underlying health conditions.
Researchers identified a variant in the ABO gene, responsible for difference blood types, that was associated with a lower risk.
‘The study and recruitment are ongoing, with the hope that we can use our research platform to better understand differences in how people respond to the virus,’ a statement on the 23andMe blog read.
‘Ultimately, we hope to publish our research findings in order to provide more insight into COVID-19 for the scientific community.’
This is not the only study that has found certain blood types offer protective benefits.
A March preprint from China found that people in blood group A had a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 compared to people in non-A blood groups.
Comparatively, those in blood group O had a lower risk of catching the infection than people in non-O blood groups.
Additionally, a joint-preprint from a group of Italian and Spanish researchers also found a higher risk of illness among A-positive people and a protective effect for people with blood type.
Another, from Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, found that people with A-positive and A-negative blood were 33 percent more likely to test positive than other blood types.
Meanwhile, both O-negative and O-positive blood types were less likely to fall ill with coronavirus than other blood groups.
In the US, there are more than 1.9 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 111,000 deaths.