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01 Apr 2021

Could COVID-19 trigger diabetes?
BY Tom Walker

A registry has been set up to collect data on people newly-diagnosed with diabetes and with confirmed COVID-19

A registry has been set up to collect data on people newly-diagnosed with diabetes and with confirmed COVID-19
photo: Shutterstock/Gecko Studio

There is growing evidence that a COVID-19 infection could trigger diabetes in some patients.

One of the studies to have made the link is a report relating to the outcomes of 47,780 COVID-19 patients within five months of hospital discharge in England. It found that 4.9 per cent of patients were diagnosed with diabetes post-discharge.

Clinical observations also show that diabetes is associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 severity and mortality, meaning pre-existing diabetes can determine COVID-19 outcomes, while the condition can also be a consequence of the disease.

A study led by researchers at the University of Exeter shows that people aged 40 living with Type 2 diabetes face a "disproportionately increased risk of dying from COVID-19" – equivalent to the risk faced by a non-diabetic 20 years older.

The link between the two diseases has now become such that scientists, academics and doctors around the world have set up a registry to record and analyse reports which suggest that COVID-19 induces diabetes.

Called CoviDiab, the registry is designed to establish the extent and characteristics of new-onset, COVID-19-related diabetes, and to investigate its pathogenesis, management and outcomes.

The goal of the registry is to collect data on people newly-diagnosed with diabetes and with confirmed COVID-19.

It will also collect data on people with existing diabetes who present with COVID-19 and severe metabolic dysregulation, with the aim of investigating the pathogenesis of the interaction between the two conditions.

Ultimately, researchers hope to understand whether COVID-19 causes a new form of diabetes or more simply a stress response that triggers classic type 1 or type 2 diabetes. (*To view the registry, click here).

In a statement, the researchers said: "Given the very short history of human contact with COVID-19, this registry will rapidly help us understand how COVID-19 related diabetes develops, its natural history and its best management.

"Studying COVID-19-related diabetes may also uncover novel mechanisms of disease."

Paul Zimmet, professor of Diabetes at Monash University in Melbourne and co-lead investigator in the CoviDiab project said: “We don’t yet know the magnitude of the new-onset diabetes in COVID-19 and if it will persist or resolve after the infection; and if so, whether or not or COVID-19 increases risk of future diabetes.

"By establishing this Global Registry, we are calling on the international medical community to rapidly share relevant clinical observations that can help answer these questions”.



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