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Diabetes and coronavirus deaths

Numerous media outlets have noted the often more severe effects of coronavirus on those living with diabetes. With India’s high incidence of diabetes is a high death toll from the virus a very real possibility?

diabetes Image ID: 42054153Old age is a major contributor to mortality as a result of the coronavirus. This is due to the fact that old age correlates with being affected by a number of health conditions that make those diagnosed with coronavirus particularly prone to severe effects. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO), which studied cases in China, said that the underlying conditions which put people at the highest risk of severe disease are hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer.

Dr Preeti N. Malani, an infectious disease specialist and chief health officer at the University of Michigan Medical School, said “in general, diabetes can be a marker of other chronic health conditions like heart disease as well as obesity, which might contribute to the increased risk of infection.”

The overall prevalence of diabetes in India is 11.8 percent, with men and women almost equally affected. Twelve percent of men are diabetic, compared to 11.7 percent of women.

Genomic studies of the Indian population have revealed a number of genes that uniquely predispose many within India to diabetes. This, combined with an overall reduction in the quality of the average citizen’s diet in recent years and a shift towards sedentary lifestyles and occupations, have caused diabetes rates to surge.

Prolonged viral infection in individuals with diabetes, resulting in symptoms such as a fever, can cause blood sugar levels to become erratic. This can add an additional layer of issues on top of the existing symptoms for diabetic patients, with the risk of a coma, and even death should blood sugar be improperly managed during the infection.

For those in quarantine, there may also be issues with supplies of insulin. Should an individual run out of insulin during the course of the lockdown the results could indeed be lethal.

It is advised that those individuals affected by diabetes make an effort to more closely monitor their blood sugar levels over the course of the pandemic. In addition, it is also recommended that despite essential workers still operating. As such, it is important to maintain a personal supply of insulin in order to cope with unforeseen circumstances. 

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