Diabetes UK has responded to media reports about the statistics on diabetes and coronavirus-related deaths in England.
Statistics reveal that 26% of people who have died from the virus also had diabetes. The data does not detail information such as what type of diabetes they had, how old they were, or what other health conditions they may have had.
The charity said: “This means that it raises more questions than it answers at the moment. We need to know much more about the potential risks of coronavirus infection for people with diabetes, and for this to be used so that advice from government can be tailored to meet your needs and keep you safe.”
Diabetes UK will continue to review any emerging evidence and data to keep people with diabetes up to date.
Bridget Turner, Director of Policy at Diabetes UK, comments: “This new data sheds much-needed light on which groups of people with diabetes are more likely to experience poor outcomes if they catch coronavirus. It’s consistent with what we know about the impact of coronavirus on the general population; that poorer outcomes are very strongly linked to older age. The numbers of people with all types of diabetes dying in hospital from coronavirus under the age of 40 were incredibly small, suggesting the risk for younger people is considerably lower.
“It also shows that the risk of death for people with diabetes is higher than for people without the condition – with the risk for people with type 1 being higher than for those with type 2 – and that a history of higher blood sugar levels as well as obesity seem to be contributing factors.
“It’s very important to remember that the risk of dying from coronavirus – for people with and without diabetes – remains very low, and that as cases of coronavirus decline, the risk to everyone of catching the disease will reduce in turn. It’s also important to remember that the numbers of children and young people with type 1, and those under the age of 40 who have died from coronavirus are very small.
“We know people with diabetes will want to know what they can do to keep themselves safe. The most important thing anyone with diabetes can do is try their best to manage their condition carefully, keeping their blood sugar in range as much as possible. All people with diabetes should also follow stringent social distancing measures to reduce their chances of catching the virus altogether.”
In response, Diabetes UK is calling on the UK Government to urgently review all of the emerging evidence and data about the risks to people with diabetes, to inform their policies as this analysis underlines the urgent need to ensure people with diabetes are protected and supported, especially as lock-down measures are eased.
Specifically, Diabetes UK is calling on the UK Government to ensure:
People with diabetes must be kept safe at work
People with diabetes should not be put in a situation that puts them at risk at work. Employers must put measures in place to keep people with diabetes safe, either by supporting people to work at home, or where this is not possible by putting people with diabetes on furlough, or by putting measures in place to allow stringent social distancing for those key workers who absolutely must be at work.
The government must ensure this guidance for employers is clear, consistent, and enforced so it is focused on the safety of their employees above all else. We need to make sure that the new government workplace guidelines work for people with diabetes.
People with diabetes must be able to access support to manage their diabetes and keep themselves safe
Having access to healthy food is important to people with diabetes and this has not always been easy when there has been such pressure on delivery slots. It’s also important that people with diabetes have access to other forms of support, for example to help with collecting medication from pharmacies where needed and for transport to urgent hospital appointments, which can’t be conducted remotely.
Health and social care services are dealing with a challenging situation and must be supported to ensure people with diabetes can continue to access the services, information and care they need during this difficult time, including emotional and psychological support.
- Read more from Diabetes UK HERE.