Can COVID-19 trigger diabetes?

Can COVID-19 trigger diabetes?

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Is COVID-19 a new risk factor for diabetes?

COVID-19 appears to be associated with diabetes in different ways. According to a recent study, existing diabetes increases the risk of developing COVID-19, and COVID-19 can increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Researchers at King’s College London found that COVID-19 could be a new risk factor for the development of diabetes. An increasing number of people with COVID-19 are documenting emerging diabetes. The research results were recently presented in the renowned specialist journal “New England Journal of Medicine”.

Diabetes increases the risk of severe COVID-19 courses

Previous clinical observations show a relationship between COVID-19 and diabetes. It is already known that diabetes is associated with an increased risk for the severity and mortality of COVID-19. Diabetes was present in up to 30 percent of all COVID-19 deaths.

COVID-19 appears to increase the risk of diabetes

Conversely, more and more cases are becoming known in which those affected develop diabetes as a result of COVID-19 disease. It is still unclear how SARS-Cov-2 is related to diabetes. It is known that the coronavirus binds to the protein ACE-2, which is also involved in glucose metabolism. Research showed that SARS-Cov-2 is also detectable in the pancreas, small intestine, adipose tissue, liver and kidney.

The researchers therefore suspect that the virus can cause diverse and complex malfunctions in glucose metabolism by penetrating these tissues. This also coincides with the long-known knowledge that other viral infections such as rubella can be involved in the development of type 1 diabetes.

Two epidemics meet

"Diabetes is one of the most common chronic diseases, and we are now seeing the consequences of the inevitable clash of two epidemics," said study co-director Professor Francesco Rubino. At the moment it is not known whether the acute manifestation of diabetes in COVID-19 can be classified as classic type 1 or type 2 diabetes. It may even be a new shape.

Appraised by 17 renowned diabetes specialists

17 world-leading diabetes experts reviewed the results and signed the study. A global register for new diabetes cases that are discovered in patients with COVID-19 is now to be established. The aim of the registry is to understand the extent and characteristics of the manifestations of diabetes in people with COVID-19 and to derive new strategies for treatment.

"The registry focuses on routinely collected clinical data that will help us examine insulin secretion ability, insulin resistance, and autoimmune antibody status to understand how COVID-19-related diabetes develops," said Professor Stephanie Amiel, a diabetes researcher at King's College London. The study of diabetes in connection with COVID-19 may also reveal new disease mechanisms, the expert said. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Diabetes information service: VIREN (TYP-3F) (access: 13.06.2020),
  • King's College London: COVID-19 may trigger new diabetes, experts warn (published: 06/12/2020),
  • Francesco Rubino, Paul Zimmet, George Alberti, among others: New-Onset Diabetes in Covid-19; in: New England Journal of Medicine, 2020,

Video: #COVID19 Diabetes and COVID-19: Three Patient Cases (December 2022).