June 10, 2021 ~ ABC News ~ Dr. Natalie Rosen

The COVID-19 virus can cause diabetes, new studies find

“The virus actually destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin.”

There is troubling news for those infected with the COVID-19 virus. New studies have found that the virus may cause diabetes in addition to pneumonia and other health problems.

Most people will recover from COVID without longer-term problems, but doctors have noticed that some patients go on to develop diabetes.

Now, new research is finding that the virus may infect and destroy certain cells that are crucial for keeping diabetes at bay. Armed with this new knowledge, scientists are now racing to understand how to best prevent this from happening in patients with COVID-19.

Diabetes already contributes to 10-15% of deaths in the United States. In 2017, nearly 34.2 million people, or 10.5% of the U.S. population, had diabetes. Per data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. Of those with diabetes, nearly 1.6 million Americans have type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that attacks pancreatic beta cells to reduce insulin production.

“There is a difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OBGYN, who was not involved in the studies. “[In] type 1 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin. In type 2, there is enough insulin but it is not working properly.”

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