The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Ethnic Minority Groups With Diabetes

Diabetes Care. 2022 Aug 9;dc212495. doi: 10.2337/dc21-2495. Online ahead of print.


Major ethnic disparities in diabetes care, especially for intermediate outcomes and diabetes complications, were evident prior to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Diabetes is a risk factor for severe COVID-19, and the combination of these ethnic disparities in diabetes care and outcomes may have contributed to the inequity in COVID-19 outcomes for people with diabetes. Overall, ethnic minority populations have suffered disproportionate rates of COVID-19 hospitalization and mortality. Results from the limited number of studies of COVID-19 in ethnic minority populations with diabetes are mixed, but there is some suggestion that rates of hospitalization and mortality are higher than those of White populations. Reasons for the higher incidence and severity of COVID-19-related outcomes in minority ethnic groups are complex and have been shown to be due to differences in comorbid conditions (e.g., diabetes), exposure risk (e.g., overcrowded living conditions or essential worker jobs), and access to treatment (e.g., health insurance status and access to tertiary care medical centers), which all relate to long-standing structural inequities that vary by ethnicity. While guidelines and approaches for diabetes self-management and outpatient and inpatient care during the pandemic have been published, few have recommended addressing wider structural issues. As we now plan for the recovery and improved surveillance and risk factor management, it is imperative that primary and specialist care services urgently address the disproportionate impact the pandemic has had on ethnic minority groups. This should include a focus on the larger structural barriers in society that put ethnic minorities with diabetes at potentially greater risk for poor COVID-19 outcomes.