Dr Robert Gabbay on the Intersection of COVID-19 and Diabetes

Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, chief scientific and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association, shares his thoughts on long COVID-19 among those with type 2 diabetes and the rise of new-onset cases of type 1 diabetes throughout the pandemic.

Early data showing that type 2 diabetes may be a risk factor for long COVID-19 are very concerning, said Robert A. Gabbay, MD, PhD, chief scientific and medical officer at the American Diabetes Association.


Research shows type 2 diabetes may influence the likelihood of developing long COVID-19. What are your thoughts on this and have you seen it occur?

Long COVID-19 is really yet one more concerning aspect of the pandemic. We are seeing more and more cases. I certainly have had, in my practice, I see patients that continue to have a variety of constellation of symptoms. Sometimes that's hard to sort out, was that related to COVID-19 or people develop other conditions? And [the] temporal relationship often has people considering that that’s related to their COVID-19 infection. There is some early data suggesting that type 2 diabetes may be one of the risk factors for long COVID-19, and that’s very concerning.

Several studies have documented a rise in type 1 diabetes during the pandemic. What do you think accounts for this?

The American Diabetes Association funded a series of research grants as the pandemic was beginning, and a couple of those projects were looking at the ability of COVID-19 virus to infect beta cells. It may be that by direct attacking the beta cells, insulin-producing cells, that is leading to the development of type 1 diabetes, because there was a recent CDC report that followed other reports that have been out there of new cases of type 1 diabetes developing in children as a result of COVID-19 infection.

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