COVID-19 Impacts People with Diabetes

People with diabetes are not more likely to get COVID-19 than the general population. The COVID-19 infection is a double challenge for people with diabetes. Diabetes has been reported to be a risk factor for the severity of the disease and at the same time patients have to control glucose in a situation with a decreased and more variable food intake.

Diabetes as a risk factor

Diabetes is a risk factor for hospitalization and mortality of the COVID-19 infection. Diabetes was comorbidity in 22% of 32 non-survivors in a study of 52 intensive care patients. In another study of 173 patients with severe disease, 16.2% had diabetes, and in further study of 140 hospitalized patients, 12% had diabetes. When comparing intensive care and non-intensive care patients with COVID-19, there appears to be a twofold increase in the incidence of patients in intensive care having diabetes. Mortality seems to be about threefold higher in people with diabetes compared with the general mortality of COVID-19 in China.

The number of comorbidities is a predictor of mortality in COVID-19. In addition to diabetes, the other common comorbidities were hypertension, in about 20% of cases, cardiovascular disease (16%), and lung disease (6%). Indeed, people with diabetes are a high-risk group for severe disease. Notably, diabetes was also a risk factor for severe disease and mortality in the previous SARS, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronavirus infections and the severe influenza A H1N1 pandemic in 2009.