COVID-19 may trigger new diabetes, experts warn

Emerging evidence suggests that COVID-19 may actually trigger the onset of diabetes in healthy people and also cause severe complications of pre-existing diabetes.

A letter published today in the New England Journal of Medicine and signed by an international group of 17 leading diabetes experts involved in the CoviDiab Registry project, a collaborative international research initiative, announces the establishment of a Global Registry of new cases of diabetes in patients with COVID-19.

The Registry aims to understand the extent and the characteristics of the manifestations of diabetes in patients with COVID-19, and the best strategies for the treatment and monitoring of affected patients, during and after the pandemic.

Clinical observations so far show a bi-directional relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes. On the one hand, diabetes is associated with increased risk of COVID-19 severity and mortality. Between 20 and 30% of patients who died with COVID-19 have been reported to have diabetes. On the other hand, new-onset diabetes and atypical metabolic complications of pre-existing diabetes, including life-threatening ones, have been observed in people with COVID-19.

It is still unclear how SARS-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, impacts diabetes. Previous research has shown that ACE-2, the protein that binds to SARS-Cov-2 allowing the virus to enter human cells, is not only located in the lungs but also in organs and tissues involved in glucose metabolism such as the pancreas, the small intestine, the fat…

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