Is diabetes mellitus associated with mortality and severity of COVID-19? A meta-analysis

Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2020 Jul-Aug;14(4):535-545. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2020.04.044. Epub 2020 May 6.


Background: Many studies on COVID-19 have reported diabetes to be associated with severe disease and mortality, however, the data is conflicting. The objectives of this meta-analysis were to explore the relationship between diabetes and COVID-19 mortality and severity, and to determine the prevalence of diabetes in patients with COVID-19.

Methods: We searched the PubMed for case-control studies in English, published between Jan 1 and Apr 22, 2020, that had data on diabetes in patients with COVID-19. The frequency of diabetes was compared between patients with and without the composite endpoint of mortality or severity. Random effects model was used with odds ratio as the effect size. We also determined the pooled prevalence of diabetes in patients with COVID-19. Heterogeneity and publication bias were taken care by meta-regression, sub-group analyses, and trim and fill methods.

Results: We included 33 studies (16,003 patients) and found diabetes to be significantly associated with mortality of COVID-19 with a pooled odds ratio of 1.90 (95% CI: 1.37-2.64; p < 0.01). Diabetes was also associated with severe COVID-19 with a pooled odds ratio of 2.75 (95% CI: 2.09-3.62; p < 0.01). The combined corrected pooled odds ratio of mortality or severity was 2.16 (95% CI: 1.74-2.68; p < 0.01). The pooled prevalence of diabetes in patients with COVID-19 was 9.8% (95% CI: 8.7%-10.9%) (after adjusting for heterogeneity).

Conclusions: Diabetes in patients with COVID-19 is associated with a two-fold increase in mortality as well as severity of COVID-19, as compared to non-diabetics. Further studies on the pathogenic mechanisms and therapeutic implications need to be done.

Keywords: 2019-nCoV; COVID-19; Coronavirus; Diabetes mellitus; Novel coronavirus; SARS-CoV-2; nCoV-2019.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus / pathogenicity*
  • COVID-19
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / mortality*
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus / mortality*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / virology
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / mortality*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Survival Rate