Middle-aged people with diabetes are facing a greater risk of COVID-19 death

As COVID-19 vaccines are rolling out, governments around the world are thinking about the most effective vaccination strategies. Who should get the vaccine first in order for the society to enjoy the greatest improvements in COVID-19 stats?

Scientists at UCL say that one group might be overlooked – middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes have a higher COVID-19 risk than the general population.

It makes sense to vaccinate older adults, as well as those with type 2 diabetes. Image credit: Administración del Principado de Asturias via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Scientists analysed datasets of tens of millions of people and compared the risk of dying from COVID-19 of people with and without diabetes. They paid more attention to people’s age in order to find out the bigger picture of COVID-19 risks. They found that the risk of dying from COVID-19 in people with diabetes increases the younger someone is. But in general middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes face the most significant COVID-19 mortality risk because of combined effects of their age and condition. This is very important, because not all countries prioritize people with type 2 diabetes in their COVID-19 vaccination programmes.

Normally, the risk of dying from COVID-19 is very low even among middle-aged people. This means that usually older people get the vaccine first. Some countries do put emphasis on people with type 2 diabetes, but many do not. Or just group diabetes patients all together, without paying much consideration to their age. Scientists say that the risk of COVID-19 mortality in middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes is disproportionately higher and this should be addressed in vaccination strategies. On the other hand, scientists do recommend that anyone with diabetes takes up the vaccine as soon as they can.

Dr Andrew McGovern, lead author of the study, said: “The risk to middle-aged people with diabetes of dying from COVID-19 is very low in absolute terms compared with the elderly. However, vaccine roll-out across Europe should be done in order of risk. Strategies to define priority groups for vaccination must consider the disproportionate relative risk of COVID-19 mortality in middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes whose COVID-19 risk is already elevated by their age”.

Vaccine availability is not the same everywhere. You might have type 2 diabetes and be pretty down in the line for getting vaccinated. This is important, but you also should remember the risks you are facing yourself. If you have type 2 diabetes, you need to improve your personal protective regime. Wash your hands more carefully, wear a mask everywhere, avoid social contact. Understand your greater risk and do all you can to reduce it.


Source: UCL