People who get COVID-19 have a greater risk of developing diabetes up to a year later, even after a mild SARS-CoV-2 infection, compared with those who never had the disease, a massive study1 of almost 200,000 people shows.
The research, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology earlier this month, is one of a growing number of studies2 showing that COVID-19 can increase a person’s risk of diabetes, months after infection.
“When this whole pandemic recedes, we’re going to be left with the legacy of this pandemic — a legacy of chronic disease” for which health-care systems are unprepared, says study co-author Ziyad Al-Aly, chief researcher for the Veterans Affairs (VA) St Louis Healthcare System in Missouri.
Al-Aly and Yan Xie, an epidemiologist also at the VA St Louis Healthcare System, looked at the medical records of more than 180,000 people who had survived for longer than a month after catching COVID-19. They compared these with records from two groups, each of which comprised around four million people without SARS-CoV-2 infection who had used the VA health-care system, either before or during the pandemic. The pair previously used a similar method to show that COVID-19 increases the risk of kidney disease, heart failure and stroke.