People with advanced diabetes have a higher risk of death from Covid-19, a new study finds

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
  • Having diabetes increases one's risk of dying from Covid-19 
  • A systematic review assessed 22 studies focusing on the relationship between the two diseases
  • Men with diabetes have a higher chance than women of dying when infected with Covid-19

People with advanced-stage diabetes are at a higher risk of dying from Covid-19, according to a new systematic review study.

The research published in Diabetologia assessed 22 studies that focused on the relationship between SAR-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and diabetes.

Looking at different studies

The researchers used a total of 22 articles involving 17 687 participants who met the inclusion criteria.

They took into account preexisting conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They also took diabetes treatment and blood glucose levels into consideration.

The study authors included studies that reported risk estimates for associations between the general characteristics of people, diabetes-specific characteristics, presence of diabetes-related complications or underlying comorbidities, and laboratory parameters.

They also assessed the death and severity of Covid-19 in people with diabetes and confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The measures of severity of Covid-19 were: death, the need for mechanical ventilation, acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock, intensive care unit admission, multiple organ dysfunction or failure, and hospital admission.

What the studies show

The multi-study findings show that people with advanced diabetes have a higher risk of death when infected with SARS-CoV-2. 

The researchers found that men with diabetes were 28% more likely to die with Covid-19 than women with diabetes, while people above the age of 65 with diabetes were more than three times more likely to die than those under that age.

Of the 22 studies, five found that people who used insulin to control their diabetes were 75% more likely to die with Covid-19 than non-insulin users. They note that the use of insulin usually indicates more advanced diabetes.

However, four studies show that people treating their diabetes with metformin, a "first line" therapy used to treat people with type 2 diabetes were 50% less likely to die with Covid-19 than those not using the drug.

"Individuals with a more severe course of diabetes have a poorer prognosis of Covid-19 compared with individuals with a milder course of [the] disease. To further strengthen the evidence, more studies on this topic that account for potential confounders are warranted," the authors write.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ| Wearing two masks almost doubles protection against Covid-19, new study finds

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24