Coronavirus cases: UK confirm 5,341 new positive tests
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“This new variant is causing damage to the beta cells in the pancreas, which produce insulin and regulate blood glucose levels,” said Dr Kothalker, who is based at Seven Star Hospital, India. The doctor admitted the link requires “more investigation”, but he’s seeing “around 40 percent more patients developing diabetes after having COVID-19”. Research published in the British Medical Journal and Nature suggest Covid infection can be linked to the onset of diabetes.
According to The Telegraph, up to 14 percent of hospitalised patients developed diabetes post infection.
Dr Faye Riley, senior research communications officer at Diabetes UK, commented on the link between the health condition and Covid.
“The growing evidence suggesting that coronavirus might be triggering diabetes in some people is concerning,” she said.
“But there’s still a lot more to learn about whether coronavirus is directly causing new cases of diabetes.”
And it’s not only the Delta variant that seems to hold a connection.
Dr Riley referenced “early reports” where up to five percent of Covid patients went on to develop diabetes seven months after being discharged from hospital.
“People who’d been in hospital with coronavirus were 1.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes after they’d been discharged,” said Dr Riley.
This was in comparison to “people of the same age and background who hadn’t been in hospital with coronavirus”.
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How can coronavirus lead to diabetes?
Dr Riley suggests “inflammation” could be “one possible reason”.
“Inflammation can bring about insulin resistance, which means the body isn’t able to make proper use of the insulin it’s producing,” she explained.
“Another potential explanation could involve ACE-2 – the protein on the surface of cells that coronavirus uses to enter and infect them.”
Akin to Dr Kothalker, Dr Riley mentioned that the pancreas plays a key role in the onset of diabetes.
“ACE-2 is found in the pancreas (and in other organs and tissues) that play an important role in how our body processes glucose,” Dr Riley added.
“When coronavirus ‘locks on’ to ACE-2, our pancreas cells might not be able to do their normal jobs of releasing insulin and processing glucose.”
Dr Riley stated it is this mechanism that could “accelerate progression towards type 2 diabetes”.
It could also bring an existing type 2 diabetes health condition to light.
Research is currently ongoing as to whether Covid could be causing a new type of diabetes directly damaging the pancreas.
A small study found evidence that the virus invades and spreads in pancreas cells.
This field of investigation raises the possibility that Covid might even change how insulin-producing beta cells work.
Scientists are building a database – called the CoviDiab registry – to record new cases of diabetes following Covid; this is to help enhance research in this growing area.
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