Covid might be triggering diabetes; India must join research effort to study this

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Published: June 26, 2020 7:45 AM

Organs involved in control of blood sugar are rich in a protein called ACE2, which is used by SARS CoV-2 to infect cells.

However, as per Nature, some doctors are now reporting a sudden onset of Type 1 diabetes in a handful recovered Covid-19 patients, even though the individuals’ bodies don’t have the immune cells that attack the ß-cells.However, as per Nature, some doctors are now reporting a sudden onset of Type 1 diabetes in a handful recovered Covid-19 patients, even though the individuals’ bodies don’t have the immune cells that attack the ß-cells.

SARS CoV-2 could be deadlier than being just the agent of the Covid-19 pandemic. In most Type 1 diabetes cases, the disease is brought about by the body’s own immune cells destroying ß-cells of the pancreas, which are responsible for insulin-production. However, as per Nature, some doctors are now reporting a sudden onset of Type 1 diabetes in a handful recovered Covid-19 patients, even though the individuals’ bodies don’t have the immune cells that attack the ß-cells.

Apart from this, many Covid-19 cases have been reported globally where the patient was hospitalised with high blood sugar and ketone levels—ketones are produced from fatty deposits in the liver, and are used by the body as an energy source when it fails to produce enough insulin to absorb glucose. What’s more, many viruses, including SARS-CoV (which causes SARS), have been linked with autoimmune disorders such as Type 1 diabetes. Organs involved in control of blood sugar are rich in a protein called ACE2, which is used by SARS CoV-2 to infect cells.

A recent study on lab-grown pancreatic organoids, also suggests that the virus might be causing diabetes by attacking cells that control blood sugar. Many medical researchers, however, advise further research—that would, of course, require gathering large-scale data on Covid-19 cases, including medical history of patients to rule out a prior tendency towards the disease. In June, researchers established a global database to collect data on people with Covid-19 and high blood sugar levels with no prior known history of diabetes. With diabetes a top NCD concern for India, it should collaborate with this effort.

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