DIABETES will be the next epidemic to sweep the UK, and Covid may be triggering more cases, says a leading health expert.
Dr Quinton Fivelman, chief scientific officer at London Medical Laboratory, says diabetes is escalating rapidly, usually linked to factors such as weight, lifestyle, age and family history.
But he believes evidence suggests there could also be a link with Covid-19.
He said: “New research has revealed Covid could be triggering the disease in previously healthy people, and potentially significantly worsening cases for some pre-existing diabetics.
“Put simply, diabetes is a disease in which people’s blood sugar levels become too high. If not treated quickly, it can lead to heart attacks, kidney failure, strokes, amputation, and blindness.”
There are two types: Type 1 is the most severe with symptoms developing over weeks or even days; Type 2 is by far the most common, with symptoms developing more slowly and may not be as obvious.
Dr Fivelman added: “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.
“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.
“The SARS-CoV-2 virus can spread beyond patient’s respiratory tract and lungs. Two U.S. studies released this summer, from Weill Cornell Medicine and Stanford University School of Medicine, have shown Covid-19 in pancreatic β-cells from patients who died from Covid-19.
“Additional experiments revealed that Covid-19 selectively infected human islet β-cells in laboratory experiments. This suggests that Covid-19 infection of the pancreatic β-cells can, in some cases, lead to diabetes similar to Type 1 diabetes in previously healthy patients.”