COVID-19, Hyperglycemia, and New-Onset Diabetes

Diabetes Care. 2021 Dec;44(12):2645-2655. doi: 10.2337/dc21-1318. Epub 2021 Oct 8.


Certain chronic comorbidities, including diabetes, are highly prevalent in people with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and are associated with an increased risk of severe COVID-19 and mortality. Mild glucose elevations are also common in COVID-19 patients and associated with worse outcomes even in people without diabetes. Several studies have recently reported new-onset diabetes associated with COVID-19. The phenomenon of new-onset diabetes following admission to the hospital has been observed previously with other viral infections and acute illnesses. The precise mechanisms for new-onset diabetes in people with COVID-19 are not known, but it is likely that a number of complex interrelated processes are involved, including previously undiagnosed diabetes, stress hyperglycemia, steroid-induced hyperglycemia, and direct or indirect effects of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on the β-cell. There is an urgent need for research to help guide management pathways for these patients. In view of increased mortality in people with new-onset diabetes, hospital protocols should include efforts to recognize and manage acute hyperglycemia, including diabetic ketoacidosis, in people admitted to the hospital. Whether new-onset diabetes is likely to remain permanent is not known, as the long-term follow-up of these patients is limited. Prospective studies of metabolism in the setting of postacute COVID-19 will be required to understand the etiology, prognosis, and treatment opportunities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / epidemiology
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis* / etiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia*
  • Prospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2