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Relationship between diabetes and COVID-19

ABCD is alarmed by NHS data reports that a quarter of those who sadly died from Covid-19 had diabetes.

News published by media outlets yesterday, it was reported that between 31 March and 12 May, 5,873 people with diabetes died, representing 26% of all deaths due to Covid-19. These reports will no doubt cause understandable anxiety and fear among people living with diabetes and their families, during already difficult times.  

These figures are significantly higher than previously published reports. On average 6% of the population has diabetes and the prevalence of diabetes rises significantly with age to more than 15%. The data do not currently distinguish between type 1 or type 2 diabetes,  nor do tehy give a breakdown of age or ethnicity.

While we are aware that age remains the most important factor, with risk going up seven fold for every decade of life; age alone may not explain the higher risk of deaths due to diabetes. It is possible that this reflects the already known associations of obesity, age, and cardiac or renal co-morbidities with Covid-19 mortality, that commonly cluster with type 2 diabetes.

We need further analysis to clearly determine the excess risks for people with different types of diabetes, and those without these co-morbidities. This will inform policies and advice for people as we move forward.  We understand further such analyses of the details behind these numbers are underway and shall be published soon.

People with diabetes currently fall into the government's ‘clinically vulnerable’ group, and are advised to stay at home as much as possible and minimise contact with those outside their household.  We advise all individuals with diabetes to continue to follow these recommendations. Work is in progress to evaluate whether shielding of some individuals with diabetes should be recommended.

ABCD continues to strive towards a greater understanding of diabetes and Covid-19. Working in collaboration with Diabetes UK and the In-patient COVID GROUP we have produced several important national guidelines to help diabetes teams working with people who have diabetes, both at home and during admission to hospital. ABCD are planning to facilitate in depth data analysis of those hospitalised with COVID-19 to help develop our knowledge and understanding of higher risk described in people with diabetes.  

Dinesh Nagi Chair ABCD  (on behalf of ABCD and DTN Executive Team)