COVID-19 and diabetes: The why, the what and the how

J Diabetes Complications. 2020 May 22;107637. doi: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2020.107637. Online ahead of print.


Background: The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 has taken the world by storm. Alongside COVID-19, diabetes is a long-standing global epidemic. The diabetes population has been reported to suffer adverse outcomes if infected by COVID-19. The aim was to summarise information and resources available on diabetes and COVID-19, highlighting special measures that individuals with diabetes need to follow.

Methods: A search using keywords "COVID-19" and "Diabetes" was performed using different sources, including PubMed and World Health Organization.

Results: COVID-19 may enhance complications in individuals with diabetes through an imbalance in angiotension-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) activation pathways leading to an inflammatory response. ACE2 imbalance in the pancreas causes acute β-cell dysfunction and a resultant hyperglycemic state. These individuals may be prone to worsened COVID-19 complications including vasculopathy, coagulopathy as well as psychological stress. Apart from general preventive measures, remaining hydrated, monitoring blood glucose regularly and monitoring ketone bodies in urine if on insulin is essential. All this while concurrently maintaining physical activity and a healthy diet. Different supporting entities are being set up to help this population.

Conclusion: COVID-19 is a top priority. It is important to remember that a substantial proportion of the world's population is affected by other co-morbidities such as diabetes. These require special attention during this pandemic to avoid adding on to the burden of countries' healthcare systems.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Diabetes mellitus; Epidemic; Global Health; Pandemic; Population health.