Type 2 diabetes significantly increases a person’s risk of developing complications of coronavirus. Now safety measures are being considered to keep diabetic at home – even when lockdown is lifted.
New research shows that one third of all hospital deaths from coronavirus (COVID-19) in England have suffered from diabetes.
Led by the national clinical director for diabetes and obesity, the research team examined 23,904 COVID-19 deaths that took place between March 1 and May 11.
Over the 10 weeks, 7,466 people who died of COVID-19 had type 2 diabetes.
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While 365 patients who passed away (because of the virus) had type 1 diabetes.
This startling study has piqued the interest of government advisors.
Professor Peter Horby, chair of the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) advisory group confirmed that “an active review” of diabetics was being considered.
Right now, most diabetics are classified as “clinically vulnerable” and the government advises them to stay at home.
However, unlike the “clinically extremely vulnerable”, diabetics are permitted to leave their homes if needs be.
Those identified as “clinically extremely vulnerable” have been sent a letter detailing their restrictions.
People who received the letter had been told to “avoid all fact-to-face contact for at least 12 weeks”.
This involved “staying at home at all times”. Whether or not diabetics will enter this category is up for discussion.
Charity Diabetes UK explained how COVID-19 can affect people with diabetes.
“People with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to becoming seriously ill with coronavirus,” it began.
“[This is] because the virus can cause difficulties managing your diabetes, potentially leading to DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis).”
The organisation added: “When you have diabetes, being ill can make your blood sugar go all over the place.
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“Your body tries to fight the illness by releasing stored glucose (sugar) into your blood stream to give you energy.
“But your body can’t produce insulin to cope with this, so your blood sugars rise.
“Your body is working overtime to fight the illness, making it harder to manage your diabetes.
“This means you’re more at risk of having serious blood sugar highs (DKA) and lows.”
Bridget Turner, director of policy at Diabetes UK, hopes the government doesn’t decide to introduce a blanket restriction to all diabetics.
“It’s important to remember that everyone with diabetes is different,” she said.
“A blanket ask of shielding for everyone with diabetes is unlikely to be appropriate.”
However, Turner realises that “it is incredibly important that the government uses the latest data to inform their advice”.
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