JDRF’s UK Chief Executive has reacted to NHS findings that people with diabetes are at higher risk of death from coronavirus.
Karen Addington said: “Clearly this is worrying news for people living with type 1 diabetes, and for their loved ones. However, this new data helps us by giving a better understanding of how people with type 1 diabetes may be affected if they develop COVID-19. It also gives an indication of how the NHS can best support these people in staying safe and well at this time.
“The data shows that poorer outcomes are strongly linked to older age, which is consistent with what we know about the impact of coronavirus on the general population. The number of people with type 1 diabetes under the age of 40 who have died from coronavirus is very small.
“It is also important to remember that the overall risk of dying from coronavirus – for people with and without diabetes – is very low. People with type 1 diabetes can help reduce their risk by managing their condition as best they can, and by following social distancing measures to reduce their chances of catching the virus.”
Professor Partha Kar, National Specialty Advisor, Diabetes with NHS England, said: “This data shows the importance of recognising type 1 and type 2 diabetes as two clear and different entities with different treatment and care needs- as has been highlighted in the NHS Long Term Plan.”
Professor Kar acknowledged the higher risk that people with type 1 diabetes face, but added: “It is also important to note that the absolute risk is low below the age of 40 – with no recorded death in datasets analysed below age of 20. The NHS will continue to work to support those living with type 1 diabetes and hopefully these results will shed further light on importance of glucose control – which clinical services should be aware of.”
Professor Jonathan Valabhji, national clinical director for diabetes and lead author of the study, said: “This research… shows that higher blood glucose levels and obesity further increase the risk in both types of diabetes. This can be worrying news but we would like to reassure people that the NHS is here for anyone with concerns about diabetes – and has put extra measures in place to help people and keep them safe, including online sites to support people to care for themselves, telephone and digital consultations, and a dedicated new helpline for advice and support for people treated with insulin.”
JDRF is calling on the UK Government to ensure this new data is coupled with clear, updated guidance for people with type 1 diabetes – that answers their questions around work, travel outside the home, and social distancing.
JDRF’s UK Chief Executive Karen Addington added: “In these challenging times, JDRF is doing all it can to help people of all ages with type 1 diabetes keep informed and keep safe. We advise anyone who has concerns about their condition to make use of the dedicated helpline for people with diabetes and NHS online services.”
The Diabetes UK Helpline is providing extended support, in collaboration with the NHS, during the coronavirus pandemic. It provides free, immediate clinical advice for type 1 diabetes and other types of diabetes. It can be accessed on 0345 123 2399.