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Can Covid-19 cause diabetes?

In a worrying new twist on the Covid situation, scientists and doctors from around the globe claim there is evidence the virus could lead to some people developing both type 1 and 2 diabetes. This could add further complications to the fight against Covid-19, and the healthcare investment needed to deal with patients experiencing long-term effects.

Can Covid-19 cause diabetes?
Reno Charlton
· 3 min read

In a fresh twist in the Covid-19 pandemic, it has been revealed there could be a link between the virus and the onset of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The claims are being made by doctors and scientists worldwide, with many now calling for further research and investigation into the matter.

Francesco Rubino, a professor at King’s College London, said that the possible link between Covid and diabetes needs to be fully investigated. This comes after doctors reported an increase in diabetes cases among those who had contracted Covid.

A new form of diabetes

While doctors have linked the virus to type 1 and 2 diabetes, medics have not ruled out the possibility of Covid creating a new form of the disease. Some believe that this could be the case because the virus disrupts sugar metabolism.

After discussing rising cases of diabetes, Rubino set up a system where doctors and clinicians could report their findings. The data was then analysed and showed that over 350 clinical professionals had come across at least one case of diabetes brought on because of Covid.

Rubino spoke about the documented rise in diabetes cases among Covid patients, stating, “Over the last few months, we’ve seen more cases of patients that had either developed diabetes during the Covid-19 experience, or shortly after that. We are now starting to think the link is probably true – there is an ability of the virus to cause a malfunctioning of sugar metabolism.”

He went on to say that because of the sheer size of the pandemic and the huge numbers of people who have been infected, this could be a serious issue. There are also concerns that many of those who have contracted diabetes may not have been diagnosed because of the pandemic, which means the problem could be far greater than initially thought. This is a particular worry with type 2 diabetes because the symptoms are more gradual and easier to miss.

Other viruses linked to diabetes onset

Researchers said there were already established links between some other viruses and the onset of diabetes. This includes enterovirus infections, which have been closely linked to the onset of type 1 diabetes. So, this is not the first time that viruses have been associated with the onset of diabetes. The figures compiled by scientists make for a compelling case when it comes to the link between Covid and diabetes.

One researcher from McMaster University in Canada compiled various data from different studies into the link between Covid and diabetes. Dr Sathish Thirunavukkarasu examined the data from studies performed during the early stages of the global pandemic. He said that based on the figures, close to 500 new diabetes diagnoses were made from among 3,711 patients who were in hospital with Covid. This equated to 14.4% of the Covid patients being diagnosed with diabetes.

Reno Charlton
Reno Charlton
Reno Charlton has been writing since 2003. She has worked with a diverse client base around the world, across a variety of subjects and industry areas, specialising in lifestyle and health & wellbeing niches. In addition to her online work, Reno is also a published author and has written several children's books and short stories.