We welcomed Eddie Johnston, Research Communications Officer, Diabetes UK to tell us about what research has shown about the risks of Covid-19 to those with diabetes. He gave a very interesting talk, which was based on data collected and analysed up to June this year. The main points were:
There is no evidence so far that people with diabetes are more likely to be infected from coronavirus. It is important for all of us to take the well-known hygiene precautions of washing our hands, wearing a mask when in the presence of others from outside our household, and keeping a 2 metre distance: hands – face – space.
People with diabetes are unfortunately at a small increased risk of ending up in hospital and/or dying if they catch the virus. For those with Type 2 diabetes the risk is thought to be between half and one and a half times higher than someone of the same age, gender, etc. without diabetes. However, 80% of those who catch coronavirus suffer only mildly and do not need to be admitted to hospital. 15% will need special care in hospital, and 5% will suffer the most severe effects and require intensive care. 98% of those who tested positive for Covid-19 have recovered.
Your risk of ending up in hospital and/or dying from Covid-19 is dependent on much more than your diabetes. The biggest risk factor is age, with an 80 year old having 1,000 times higher risk of suffering from catching the virus than a 20 year old. The next highest risk factor appears to be being overweight. Men have a slightly higher risk than women, and ethnicity is a factor, with those who are black or Bangladeshi, Pakistani or Indian 2 – 4 times more at risk of serious complications.
Research has not yet shown why people with diabetes are more vulnerable to poor outcomes from Covid-19 than those without, but this is being looked into.
It’s possible that the virus might trigger diabetes or make diabetes worse in some people but we don’t know for sure yet.
The best source for the latest accurate information on diabetes and Covid-19 can be found at the Diabetes UK web site at: https://www.diabetes.org.uk/about_us/news/coronavirus
Diabetes UK has funded 5 research programmes to investigate the effect of Covid-19 on diabetes. These started very quickly compared to the normal timescales. Two are focussed on the effects of lockdown on diabetes care, such as eye problems and overall health. Three are looking at the direct impact of coronavirus – how those with Type 1 diabetes have been affected, which people with diabetes are most at risk, and how does the virus attack people with diabetes. Of course there are many other diabetes – Covid research projects being carried out worldwide.
Following the meeting we had a lively discussion about the presentation, the risks and what they mean to us.