Medical doctors suspect virus could trigger new sort of diabetes


Could the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 also leave patients with a new form of diabetes? A growing number of medical professionals believe this could be the case.

Diabetes is usually divided into Type 1 – which the patient is born with – and Type 2, which typically occurs later in life and is closely related to lifestyle.

Regardless of the type, diabetes is considered a comorbidity in Covid-19, and Belgium is one of many countries where diabetics and people with respiratory and heart problems are high on vaccination priority lists.

Diabetics are more likely to experience serious complications when they become infected with the coronavirus. Now, preliminary research suggests that the virus can potentially cause a new form of diabetes in infected people who have never been diabetic before.

There is no doubt in my eyes. Covid-19 is certainly a cause of new diabetes, “Paul Zimmet, professor of diabetes at Monash University, Australia, told The Guardian. “But we don’t quite understand – first, size, and second, which of the things we’ve assumed are the main factors.”

Professor Francesco Rubino of King’s College London was first made aware of the problem during a zoom chat with colleagues who have all had post-Covid diabetes cases. He is now calling for a bulk collection of data to get a picture of the scale of the problem, leading to research into the mechanism – how exactly is the virus causing this new type of diabetes?

In the past few months we have seen more cases of patients who had diabetes either during the Covid-19 experience or shortly afterwards. We are now beginning to believe that the link is likely true – it is the virus’ ability to cause glucose metabolism to malfunction, ”he said.

It is important to create a database in order to determine whether and what there is a biological connection.
“We said it is worth investigating as it could be a significant problem, especially given the size of the pandemic.”

So far, studies have found a number of cases of emerging diabetes ranging from 2.35% from a study in China to 4.9% from a study in England. One problem, however, is differentiating between patients who have never been diabetic and those who may already have type 2 diabetes without knowing it.

Alan Hope
The Brussels times