Coronavirus thought to ‘disrupt sugar metabolism’ as cases of type 1 diabetes surge

Diabetes expert reveals rise of cases in children during pandemic

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Speaking exclusively to, Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD – chief scientific officer at London Medical Laboratory – said researchers are “concerned”. “We are concerned about the way Covid penetrates organs,” he said. “The virus interacts with a receptor called ACE-2 to infiltrate cells in organs, including the pancreas.”

Dr Fivelman said this is “likely” to “disrupts sugar metabolism”.

He elaborated: “ACE-2 is found in the pancreas and there seems to be evidence that it is changing how the Beta cells work.”

The doctor cited two American studies released this summer, from Weill Cornell Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine.

Both studies have shown Covid to be present in pancreatic B-cells from patients who died from the disease.

“Additional experiments revealed that Covid-19 selectively infected human islet β-cells in laboratory experiments,” Dr Fivelman added.

“This suggests that Covid infection of the pancreatic β-cells can, in some cases, lead to diabetes similar to type 1 diabetes in previously healthy patients.”

While more time is needed to determine how significant this link is, another area of research is gaining traction.

Ongoing research is mounting in whether Covid causes inflammation in the body, leading to insulin resistance.

“That means that the body is unable to properly use the natural insulin it produces,” Dr Fivelman explained. “Again, this would lead to diabetes symptoms.”

What are the symptoms of diabetes?

“The first signs that you may have diabetes are that you urinate more often, are frequently thirsty, are often tired, have unexpected weight loss or suddenly suffer from blurry eyesight,” Dr Fivelman pointed out.

“Keeping your blood sugar levels normal requires the proper balance of glucagon and insulin secretion at the appropriate times.

“A lack of insulin secretion can result in Type 1 diabetes. This may be triggered by Covid-19 attacking pancreatic cells.”

Dr Fivelman suggests taking a diabetes blood test if you want to check your blood sugar levels.

“This diabetes test measures your level of HbA1c, a biomarker in people’s blood,” he explained.

“A result between 42-47mmol/mol is considered high risk for diabetes and a level greater than 48mmol/mol carries a diagnosis of diabetes.

“For people worried about their combined risk of Covid and diabetes, tests for either or both are available at London Medical Laboratory centres.”

The doctor also pointed out that blood sugar levels are known to rise in some people who are fighting off a Covid infection.

“As yet, we have no clear idea of how long these remain at a high level, but this may certainly be a contributing factor.

“Some scientists are even speculating we may even be looking at a new type of diabetes, triggered by the effects of Covid.

“This may be linked to longer term high blood sugar levels in long Covid patients.”

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