Evidence gaps identified
Dr. Gregg and co-authors Marisa Sophiea, PhD, MSc, and Misghina Weldegiorgis, PhD, BSc, also from Imperial College London, identify three areas in which more data are needed.
First, more information is needed to determine whether exposure, infection, and hospitalization risks differ by diabetes status and how those factors affect outcomes. The same studies would also be important to identify how factors such as behavior, masking, and lockdown policies, risk factor control, and household/community environments affect risk in people with diabetes.
Second, studies are needed to better understand indirect effects of the pandemic, such as care and management factors. Some of these, such as the advent of telehealth, may turn out to be beneficial in the long run, they note.
Finally, the pandemic has “brought a wealth of natural experiments,” such as how vaccination programs and other interventions are affecting people with diabetes specifically. Finally, population studies are needed in many parts of the world beyond the U.S. and the U.K., where most of that work has been done thus far.
“Many of the most important unanswered questions lie in the potential indirect and long-term impact of the pandemic that require population-based studies,” Dr. Gregg said. “Most of our knowledge so far is from case series, which only assess patients from the time of hospitalization.”
Indeed, very little data are available for people with diabetes who get COVID-19 but are not hospitalized, so it’s not known whether they have a longer duration of illness or are at greater risk for “long COVID” than those without diabetes who experience COVID-19 at home.
“I have not seen published data on this yet, and it’s an important unanswered question,” Dr. Gregg said.
The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.
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