COVID-19 Associated with Higher Risk of Diabetes, New Study Finds

A new study suggests that COVID-19 is associated with a higher risk of diabetes following infection. The study found that COVID-19 may have contributed to 3-5% of new diabetes cases, with a higher risk among those who had severe COVID-19 disease during the acute phase of infection, such as those who required hospitalization or admission to the intensive care unit. The study, published in JAMA Network Open, used population-level data from the British Columbia COVID-19 Cohort to better understand the relationship between COVID-19 infection and the risk of developing diabetes.

Prior studies had either small or specific participant groups that may not represent the general population.[0] However, this study assessed the population level burden of diabetes associated with COVID-19 infection and found that COVID-19 may have contributed to 3-5% of new diabetes cases. Given the large number of people infected with COVID-19, these excess diabetes cases could translate into a very large population level burden of diabetes, which could strain already stretched healthcare systems.[0]

The latest data from the National Paediatric Diabetes Audit for England and Wales also reports that 2021 and 2022 have been high incidence years for new onset type 1 diabetes in children. Some small studies have suggested that rates of new type 1 diabetes diagnoses in children are higher in 2020 compared to average rates in previous years. During the first year of the pandemic, there was a 17% increase in new onset diabetes cases among children across the UK and Ireland, compared with a background incidence of 3-5% over the past 10 years.[1] Type 1 diabetes was diagnosed in over 95% of these children.[1]

The study found that being exposed to SARS-CoV-2 infection increased the risk of incident diabetes in the follow-up period by 17% compared with those who were not exposed. Males had an increased risk, and those who were exposed had a 22% increase in risk compared to those who were not.[2] The risk for developing incident diabetes was higher for adults with COVID-19 admitted to the ICU or hospital than those who did not have COVID-19.

Previous research has suggested that SARS-CoV-2 infection may increase the risk of developing diabetes by damaging insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Pancreatic beta cells are infected and killed by the virus, and the beta cells may be further destroyed due to a response triggered by severe COVID-19-related stress.[3] The pressures may lead individuals with prediabetes to progress into diabetes.[0]

Although it is not fully known if SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with transient hyperglycemia during active infection or if metabolic alterations persist, associated with increased risk of subsequent diabetes among individuals with infections, the study highlights the need for longitudinal studies to investigate this issue. The findings also suggest the need for continued monitoring and care for individuals who have had COVID-19, particularly those who had severe disease during the acute phase of infection.

0. “COVID Linked to Higher Risk of New Onset Diabetes”, 18 Apr. 2023,

1. “Up to one in 20 new diabetes cases could be linked to Covid, study suggests” The Guardian, 18 Apr. 2023,

2. “COVID-19 Increases Risk of Developing Diabetes” Inside Precision Medicine, 18 Apr. 2023,

3. “Study of 600000 people links COVID-19 infection to increase in diabetes diagnoses” LabPulse, 18 Apr. 2023,

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