COVID-19 adverse impacts stronger in people with diabetes: Study

Individuals with type 1, type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 3 times more likely to have a severe illness or require hospitalisation compared to those without diabetes  

By Susan Chacko
Published: Tuesday 08 December 2020

The adverse impacts of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were found to be more pronounced in those suffering from type 1 and type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in journal Diabetes Care.

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Tennessee, the United States, analysed data of 613,840 patients with COVID-19 but no diabetes, and 273 patients with COVID-19 as well as Type 1 / Type 2 diabetes. The study was published on December 2, 2020.

People with type 1 diabetes had adjusted odds ratios (odds that an outcome will occur given a particular exposure, compared to the odds of the outcome occurring in the absence of that exposure ) of 3.90 for hospitalisation. It was 3.35 for a more severe illness in people with COVID-19 and diabetes compared to those who did not have diabetes.

Those with type 2 diabetes also exhibited similar risks, the study found.

This meant that people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes as well as COVID-19 were at least three times more likely to have a severe illness or require hospitalisation compared to those without diabetes.

“I think these data support prioritising individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes for immunisation alongside other high-risk medical conditions that increase the risk of getting very sick with COVID-19, such as heart or lung disease,” said Justin Gregory, lead investigator of the study.

The results showed the patients who used higher levels of technology to manage diabetes were less likely to have worse outcomes. Social determinants of health were also significantly related to severity outcome, it added.

After adjustment for age, race and other risk factors, the odds of a COVID-19-related hospitalisation and greater illness severity for patients with type 1 diabetes were three-four-fold higher than patients without diabetes. This increased risk was approximately the same for patients with type 2 diabetes, the study said.

The COVID-19 outcome severity in type 1 diabetes was associated with glycemic, vascular and socio-economic risk factors. The adjusted odds ratios for in-hospital death with COVID-19 was 3.5 for people with type 1 diabetes and 2.0 for people with type 2 diabetes.

Chronic hyperglycemia and vascular disease, social determinants of health and decreased use of diabetes technology correlated significantly with outcome severity in respect to individuals infected with the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

Experts expressed concern that SARS-CoV-2 transmission would increase sizably in winters and affect those with diabetes even more. With a drop in temperature, social activities will move inside, humidity will decrease and the will to maintain social distancing will wane.

Studies have showed that the annual increase in cold and flu coincides with low outside temperature and indoor relative humidity. Flu viruses survive and are transmitted more easily in cold and dry air. The same could be true for SARS-CoV-2, which has a similar size and structure as the flu virus.

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