COVID-19 and Diabetes: A New Health Challenge

October 10, 2020

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 422 million people in the world, or 1 out of 11 are suffering from diabetes, with 3.7 million deaths attributed by diabetes and high glucose content in blood. For individuals who are living with diabetes, accessibility and affordable treatment are tantamount to survival, especially true now while we are facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

A study by University of Nantes finds that the mortality rate of diabetics hospitalised with COVID-19 are higher than non-diabetics, with 10% of diabetics losing their lives within seven days of hospitalisation. It stated that, “Elderly populations with long-term diabetes with advanced diabetic complications and/or treated obstructive sleep apnoea were particularly at risk of early death, and might require specific management to avoid infection with the novel coronavirus.”

The study also suggested that BMI appears as an independent prognostic factor for COVID-19 severity in the population living with diabetes requiring hospital admission, however the link between obesity and COVID-19 would require further study.

Furthermore, the global pandemic may be posing a significant risk to an increase in type 1 diabetes among children. A recent research conducted by Imperial College London uncovered a potential link between the number of children diagnosed with type 1 diabetes that almost doubled during the peak of the coronavirus epidemic in the UK. Although only 30 children were involved, this research was the first to indicate a link between coronavirus and newly-onset type 1 diabetes in young people.

Youths in London hospitals who were diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the first peak of the pandemic amounted to 30 cases, which is approximately double the cases seen in the same period from previous years. In total, 21 children had been tested for coronavirus or its antibodies to establish if they had been exposed to the said virus, and five were positive.

This research echoes other similar findings from Italy and China, signalling that more children were diagnosed in hospitals with new-onset type 1 diabetes during the global pandemic. Although more research is required to link the two officially, clinicians should be wary of this possible connection.

Checking blood glucose level is a crucial part in managing diabetes, especially early onset diabetes, and Glucosenz contends to change the stigma that the process is arduous, painful and intrusive. A non-invasive and non-intrusive device, Glucosenz can analyse and predict blood glucose level from the blood capillaries of the human thumb, without piercing the skin.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the importance of early detection of diabetes, especially among children. This discovery elevates the need to have a revolutionary method or device that allows people to easily acquire instant blood glucose level results—as they would have by checking their body temperature or blood pressure level—so that they could take immediate actions and precautions.