A Global Data Effort Probes Whether COVID Causes Diabetes
Dozens of case reports hint the coronavirus might trigger diabetes' onset
From the onset of the pandemic, data coming out of early coronavirus hot spots like China, Italy and New York City foretold that certain groups of people would be more vulnerable to COVID-19. The disease hit older people and those with underlying medical conditions the hardest. As early as February, diabetes had emerged as one of the conditions associated with the highest risk. In one large study out of China, people with diabetes were more than three times as likely to die of COVID-19 than the overall population.
But that’s not what brought four diabetes experts from Australia and the United Kingdom onto a Zoom call back in April. They were supposed to just be catching up—a virtual tea among friends. But talk soon turned to something strange that they’d been seeing in their own hospitals and hearing about through the grapevine. The weird thing was that people were showing up in COVID-19 wards, after having tested positive for the virus with lots of sugar in their blood. These were people with no known diabetic history. But you would not know it from their lab results.
After that call, the experts reached out to colleagues in other countries to see if they’d seen or heard of similar cases. They had.
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