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Type 1 diabetics more likely to die from COVID-19 than type 2, according to the NHS

Published on 20/05/20 at 10:25am
Photo by Jack Sem

People suffering type 1 diabetes are far more likely to die of coronavirus than those with type 2, according to new NHS research.

People with type 1 are three and a half times more likely to die than non-diabetics who catch COVID-19 while type 2 diabetics are twice as likely to die than non-diabetics. 9 out of 10 diabetics have type 2, which is closely linked to obesity.

Age is still the biggest determining factor for deaths in type 1 and 2 diabetics. Under-40s are at a very low risk compared to over 40s. Among all diabetics, men, people from a BAME background and the poorest in the country are at higher risk, while diabetics with underlying conditions like kidney disease or previous heart failure are among the most vulnerable.

Commenting on the new research, Professor Jonathan Valabhji, NHS England’s national clinical director for diabetes and obesity and the study’s lead, said: “This research shows the extent of the risk of coronavirus for people with diabetes and the different risks for those with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Importantly, it also shows that higher blood glucose levels and obesity further increase the risk in both types of diabetes.”

This news follows NHS data that released last week, which showed that 1 in 4 deaths from coronavirus in hospital were diabetics. Between 31 March and 12 May, 22,332 people died from COVID-19 related illnesses in English hospitals with 5,873, or 26%, suffering from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes.

The reason COVID-19 hurts diabetics more is because their condition often involves complications with the heart and kidneys. Their immune systems are also usually not as good at fighting infections compared to people without diabetes.

Conor Kavanagh

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