People with preexisting diabetes who are sickened by COVID-19 are known to experience particularly severe symptoms compared with nondiabetic individuals. A study published online on February 27 in eBioMedicine suggests that even in patients with no prior history of diabetes or prediabetes, where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes, COVID-19 illness is associated with a greater risk for developing new-onset type 2 diabetes compared with being sickened by influenza.
Tim Q. Duong, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Radiology, Montefiore Einstein, and Professor, Dominick P. Purpura Department of Neuroscience and Biochemistry, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and colleagues examined the potential risk factors and incidence of new-onset type 2 diabetes in COVID-19 patients versus influenza patients during hospitalization and three months afterward. During hospitalization, the incidence of new-onset type 2 diabetes was 3.96 times higher in COVID-19 patients compared with influenza patients; at follow-up, three months following hospitalization, the increased risk for persistent type 2 diabetes was 1.24 times higher among COVID-19 patients. Older male COVID-19 patients with underlying comorbidities were especially likely to develop type 2 diabetes that persisted after hospitalization.
The researchers concluded that COVID-19 disease severity was the dominant factor leading to persistent diabetes.