COVID-19 could trigger diabetes, evidence suggests

In the early months of the pandemic, doctors in outbreak epicentres including Wuhan and Italy suggested a link between new cases of diabetes and COVID-19.

In November, a study found 14.4 per cent of people who became severely ill with coronavirus went on to develop diabetes.

There was also a case of an 18-year-old student in Germany who was asymptomatic while infected with coronavirus, but who began to feel listless a month later.

He was diagnosed with diabetes, with his doctor suggesting that its sudden onset could be linked to the student’s infection, according to the journal Nature.

More than 150 documented cases of possible coronavirus-induced diabetes have now been reported worldwide. The cases were documented in a co-ordinated effort from more than 300 institutions, The Times reports.

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The researchers behind the Covid-IAB Registry said those virus-infected patients diagnosed with diabetes have consistently suffered poor outcomes.

However, in some cases, the researchers claim the virus has affected the diabetes, or even caused its onset.

Doctors have hypothesised that a steroid used to treat severe cases of coronavirus can trigger an elevated blood sugar level.

In other cases, diabetes appears to present months after the initial infection.

One of the founders of the registry said the purpose was to discover whether the diabetes cases are truly being triggered by COVID-19.

Professor Francesco Rubino, chairman of metabolic and bariatric surgery at King’s College London, told The Times researchers will use it to decipher what is “true COVID-induced diabetes, not a case that could be classified as unknown pre-existing diabetes”.

— with wires

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