Mouse Pancreatic Islet

COVID-19 at Work in New Diabetes Cases

It is now becoming apparent that the connection between diabetes and COVID-19 is a two-way street. On one hand, people with diabetes are at risk for more severe cases with COVID-19. On the other hand, it seems that COVID-19 is at work in new cases of diabetes. In fact, diabetes may come to about 14 percent of severe COVID patients. This estimate comes from a recent meta-analysis.

Is this a generic response to severe illness and steroids? That is a possibility. But physicians are beginning to see evidence that COVID-19 itself can cause diabetes – both type 1 and type 2.

A Concerning New Pathway

Reports of new diabetes diagnoses are coming, even after mild COVID cases. Professor Francesco Rubino calls this a serious concern:

“There’s a good chance that the mechanism of the diabetes isn’t typical. There could be a hybrid form. It’s concerning. As the number of novel COVID infections continues to rise, you could see a significant new volume of diabetes diagnoses.”

Already, the prevalence of diabetes is growing at a serious rate. In the U.S. we have 34 million people with diabetes already and another 88 million who are on their way with prediabetes. Needless to say, the growing prevalence of obesity is part of what is bringing us to this state of health.

Only now, we may have yet another trigger at work.

More Type 2 in Children?

Clinicians at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles have noted an uptick in new cases of type 2 diabetes among their patients. Researcher Senta Georgia is  working hard to understand what might be happening. She says:

“There’s a lot of smoke, but nobody has been able to identify the fire yet. We don’t know if there’s actually a direct effect of SARS-CoV-2 infection on pancreatic beta cells, or whether the infection itself is eliciting a hyper-inflammatory response that is then mis-programmed to attack beta cells.”

Mask, Distance, and Vaccine

This bears watching and it gives us more reason than ever to be cautious about COVID – wear the mask, keep the distance, and get the vaccine as soon as we qualify.

Click here to read more from the Washington Post, then here and here for further scientific perspective.

Mouse Pancreatic Islet, immunofluorescent microscopy image © Jakob Suckale / Wikimedia

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February 2, 2021