Dr Robert Gabbay on Diabetes in the COVID-19 Era

June 30, 2020

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will hopefully be a wakeup call to take diabetes more seriously and to work to prevent diabetes and its complications, said Robert Gabbay, MD, PhD, chief medical and scientific officer of the American Diabetes Association.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will hopefully be a wakeup call to take diabetes more seriously and to work to prevent diabetes and its complications, said Robert Gabbay, MD, PhD, chief medical and scientific officer of the American Diabetes Association.

Transcript:

Diabetes is among the most serious risk factors in the COVID-19 pandemic. Do you believe the pandemic will serve as a wakeup call to reduce the risk of diabetes as a public health concern? If so, how can the ADA play a role in this process?

Well, I very much hope that this will be a wakeup call to take diabetes more seriously, to work to prevent diabetes and its complications. ADA has been leading this effort through research, advocacy, education. The hope is that we are having greater and greater traction. I think this effort that we alluded to earlier about Medicare reducing the out-of-pocket cost of insulin for individuals who are living with diabetes is an example of how, in the midst of COVID-19, there's been greater understanding about the importance of diabetes. I sincerely hope that that continues at the federal government level but also nationally and internationally, because this is really a global epidemic that we need to get a handle on.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, do you forsee any long-term changes being implemented to traditional diabetes management and care?

It's good question. I hope, I'm optimistic that the movement towards telemedicine that has really accelerated as a result of COVID-19 will continue. It's not a replacement for usual care, but it certainly can vastly augment the care that's delivered on site. It's more convenient for people living with diabetes, it allows greater access to providers that individuals may not have access to. I hope that we continue to see a proliferation of telemedicine including a variety of digital health approaches to diabetes that have shown to be efficacious and helpful for people with diabetes.

Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share?

Well, this is a time where there are a lot of challenges facing us as a society. Diabetes continues to be an incredible public health problem that we see coming up in terms of COVID-19, and the morbidity and mortality of people with diabetes with COVID-19. But even in the absence of COVID-19, it continues to be a leading cause of blindness, kidney failure, amputation, stroke, and heart disease. The good news is that working together, we really have a great understanding of ways that we can reduce that burden of diabetes for all of those that live with it.