Additional support for those with diabetes

NHS England and NHS Improvement have published a study that shows people living with type 1 diabetes are at three and a half times the risk, and people living with type 2 are at double the risk of dying in hospital with COVID-19, compared to people without diabetes.


The study interpreted that deaths in people with diabetes in England have more than doubled during the COVID-19 epidemic. Hyperglycaemia and obesity in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes were independently associated with increased COVID-19 mortality. Risk factor control could diminish the impact of COVID-19 in diabetes. The full study can be viewed at:


In response, NHS England and NHS Improvement announced the expansion of support to people with diabetes to include a dedicated helpline to advise those who need help with insulin, established with Diabetes UK and others. Diabetes patients will also have access to additional online advice to help them to manage their condition better.

How coronavirus can affect people with diabetes

If you have diabetes, regardless of what type you have, you are no more likely to catch coronavirus than anyone else. And the majority of people who do get coronavirus, whether they have diabetes or not , will have mild symptoms and don’t need to go into hospital.

However everyone with diabetes, including those with type 1, type 2, gestational and other types, is vulnerable to developing a severe illness if they do get coronavirus, but the way it affects you can vary from person to person.

Being ill can make your blood sugar go all over the place. Your body tries to fight the illness by releasing stored glucose (sugar) into your blood stream to give you energy. But your body can’t produce enough or any insulin to cope with this, so your blood sugars rise.

Your body is working overtime to fight the illness, making it harder to manage your diabetes. This means you’re more at risk of having serious blood sugar highs and lows, potentially leading to DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) or HHS (hyperosmolar hyperglycaemic state).

For most people, coronavirus is a mild illness, but some people develop a more serious form of the virus and sadly could die. Research shows us that there are certain risk factors that make you more at risk, like being from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic group, increased age, a BMI over 30, a history of high HbA1c, or complications such as heart failure or kidney disease. There are some risk factors that you can’t change, but others where you can reduce your risk.

How to reduce your risk

While the UK government has recently eased some lockdown restrictions in England, the advice for people with diabetes across the UK is still to stay at home as much as possible and to minimise contact with people outside your household. Only go out for:

  • basic necessities, like food and medicine
  • exercise
  • any medical need or to care for a vulnerable person
  • going to and from work, and only if you can’t work from home.

If you do need to go outside for any of these reasons, you should still follow strict social distancing measures. This means keeping 2 metres apart from other people and washing your hands as soon as you get home.

Up to date information from Diabetes UK can be found at:

Diabetes helpline

Get specialist information and advice on all aspects of living with diabetes. Call for answers, support or just to talk to someone who knows about diabetes.

Call: 0345 123 2399, Monday to Friday, 9am to 6pm


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