Everything We Know About The Relationship Between COVID-19 And Diabetes

From the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, researchers and scientists have been certain that the resulting disease, COVID-19, could be far more dangerous to patients with underlying conditions like heart disease or diabetes. The relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes is becoming clearer with each passing day — and what we now know is cause for concern. It appears that COVID-19 might actually cause diabetes.

Diabetics who have Type-1 diabetes have trouble creating insulin because an immune response terminates the cells responsible for making it. This process usually occurs in the pancreas. That’s why some people have to inject insulin themselves. 

Monash University Metabolic disease specialist Paul Zimmet said, “Diabetes is dynamite if you get COVID-19.” But there’s a reason why: “Diabetes itself is a pandemic just like the COVID-19 pandemic. The two pandemics could be clashing.”

Zimmet believes COVID-19 actually might be a diabetes trigger, causing the condition in otherwise healthy individuals.

It wouldn’t be a huge shock if this were the case.

That’s because Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is already considered a risk factor for diabetes (and could be considered a cousin of coronavirus). The same organs that help maintain your blood sugar use ACE2, a protein that SARS-CoV-2 (the strain of coronavirus responsible for this pandemic) to override cells. A new study suggests that this relationship could prove disastrous.

Zimmet said, “In science, sometimes you have to start off with very small evidence to chase a hypothesis.”

Not everyone agrees.

University of Glasgow metabolic-disease researcher Naveed Sattar said, “We need to keep an eye on diabetes rates in those with prior COVID-19, and determine if rates go up and over expected levels.”

In other words, it’s too early to be making conclusions — and we need to keep an eye on what matters here and now, which is reducing the rate of infection for coronavirus while we protect those most at risk (including those who have diabetes already).