Coronavirus Mortality – the increased risk for people with diabetes

diabetes risk and COVID-19
on Tue 26 May

A recent paper examined  type 1 and type 2 diabetes and COVID-19 related mortality in England. This is the largest COVID-19 related study covering the entire population and seeks to look at the differential risks between types 1 and 2 diabetes.


Adjusting the statistics for geographical region, ethnicity, age and socioeconomic deprivation the study says that people with type 1 diabetes have three and a half times the risk of dying in hospital with Coronavirus and people with type 2 diabetes have twice the risk.


However, reassuringly for the younger people with diabetes, the absolute risk of death remains very low in those aged less than 40 years with no recorded death in anyone aged less than 20 years.


Other than age, the factors associated with a higher risk of death included

  • high blood glucose levels (HbA1c >86mmol/mol)
  • being male
  • people of black and Asian ethnicity
  • people living in more deprived communities
  • and those with pre-existing kidney disease, heart failure and previous stroke.


The data also suggest that low blood glucose levels associated with tight control (HbA1c <48mmol/mol) and low BMI were also associated with a higher risk of death demonstrating a “U-shaped curve” where both extremes of glucose control and weight are associated.


Data were first published on May 19th and the paper is currently under peer-review but you may want to see the full pre-publication details here:


Is it obvious that you have diabetes?

Like many underlying conditions these are not always recognised as existing by the undiagnosed person with diabetes. For example, Diabetes UK reported in 2019 that 549,000 people in the UK have undiagnosed diabetes with the overwhelming majority type 2 diabetes.


This being the case I thought you might find this infographic useful for considering the risk of developing type 2 diabetes:



The most common tell-tale signs of both types of diabetes are:

  • Increase in need to pass urine during day and night
  • Being extremely thirsty
  • Tiredness
  • Hunger
  • Dry mouth
  • Itchy skin
  • Blurred vision


Type 2 diabetes symptoms can come on gradually and are easy to miss. The symptoms associated with type 1 diabetes usually happen rapidly in days or weeks.


If the above infographic and signs give you any cause for concern please contact your GP.  

Type 2 diabetes is no longer regarded as always a chronic lifelong condition. Weight loss programmes have had a positive impact and trials around a very low calorie diet which have been running since 2018 do seem to be having some success.  I wrote about this here 


I hope this has been helpful. 


Although every effort is made to ensure that all health advice on this website is accurate and up to date it is for information purposes and should not replace a visit to your doctor or health care professional.


As the advice is general in nature rather than specific to individuals Dr Vanderpump cannot accept any liability for actions arising from its use nor can he be held responsible for the content of any pages referenced by an external link



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