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Some People May Develop Diabetes After Having COVID-19 - Studies

Some People May Develop Diabetes After Having COVID-19 - Studies

Anyone can contract COVID-19. In fact, you might have already recovered from it or at least personally know someone who experienced testing positive for it. Despite how common this infection is by now, we’re still learning about its possible long-term effects. For instance, studies show that those who recovered from COVID might develop diabetes later on. Here’s what you need to know about new onset diabetes after COVID.

COVID-19 and Pre-Existing Diabetes: What’s The Connection?

Before we talk about diabetes after COVID-19, let’s revisit the connection between contracting COVID-19 while you have diabetes.

If you have diabetes, then you might be at a higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19. That’s why when the vaccination rollout started, health officials listed diabetes mellitus as one of the comorbidities to be prioritized.

Now, studies reveal that people who don’t have diabetes may develop the condition after they get infected with SARS-CoV-2.

New Onset Diabetes After COVID-19: Fast Facts

It’s concerning to know that there’s a possibility of developing diabetes after COVID-19. After all, diabetes is a lifelong condition that requires many adjustments, particularly in diet and nutrition.

Here’s what we know so far about new onset diabetes after COVID-19:

1. COVID-19 may cause blood sugar spikes (regardless of diabetes status)

A study conducted in Spain noted that patients who develop high blood sugar levels while admitted due to SARS-CoV-2 have a higher risk of dying regardless of their diabetes history¹.

Another research also noted that COVID-19 can induce hyperglycemia with or without present diabetes².

2. Yes, there are already cases where people have developed diabetes after COVID-19

The possibility of contracting new onset diabetes after COVID-19 is not just confined in papers. There are already real-life cases.

One report, for instance, revealed that of the 6,247 COVID-19 patients, 759 or 12.15% developed diabetes. That is 5 times higher compared to the control group of non-diabetics. Of 143,594 non-diabetics, only 2.41% developed diabetes.

Hence, the researchers concluded that “we should consider diabetes as one of the possible complications of COVID-19³

3. The exact cause is unknown⁴

The mechanism behind having new onset diabetes after COVID is not yet clear, but reports say it is likely due to:

  • Previously undiagnosed diabetes
  • High blood sugar due to stress (stress hyperglycemia)
  • Steroid-induced hyperglycemia; and
  • Direct or indirect effects of SARS-CoV-2

4. Younger people are more at risk

The US Center for Disease Control released a report saying people younger than 18 are more likely to receive new diabetes diagnoses more than 30 days after testing positive for COVID-19⁵.

The report also clarified that non-SARS-CoV-2 infections are not associated with an increased risk for diabetes.

What Are Its Implications?

Note that there are still no studies about new onset diabetes after COVID-19 in the Philippines. Still, experts say the existing studies already have public health implications.

Firstly, younger people must take precautions, so they wouldn’t contract COVID-19. This is important to point out because most people have the understanding that younger people are “safer” against the effects of the virus.

And most importantly, eligible children must get their vaccine when they can. To date, it is the most effective weapon against the virus. Not only does it protect them from severe COVID-19 that might lead to hospitalization and death, but it might also protect them against contracting COVID. In doing so, they avoid the long-term effects and complications that may include diabetes mellitus.

Key Takeaways

Experts are looking into the possibility of new onset diabetes after COVID, although the exact mechanism is still unclear. For now, the CDC reports say people aged 18 below are more at risk, that’s why it’s very important for them to get their covid shot as soon as they can.

Learn more about Coronavirus here.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Admission hyperglycaemia as a predictor of mortality in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 regardless of diabetes status: data from the Spanish SEMI-COVID-19 Registry, https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07853890.2020.1836566, Accessed March 4, 2022

Hyperglycemia Induced by COVID-19 with and without Present Diabetes: A Systematic Review, https://journal.ubaya.ac.id/index.php/kesdok/article/view/4431, Accessed March 4, 2022

353. New-Onset Diabetes as an Acute Complication of COVID-19: A National Population Cohort Analysis, https://academic.oup.com/ofid/article/8/Supplement_1/S280/6450186, Accessed March 4, 2022

COVID-19, Hyperglycemia, and New-Onset Diabetes, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34625431/#:~:text=The%20precise%20mechanisms%20for%20new,effects%20of%20severe%20acute%20respiratory, Accessed March 4, 2022

Risk for Newly Diagnosed Diabetes >30 Days After SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Persons Aged <18 Years — United States, March 1, 2020–June 28, 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/71/wr/mm7102e2.htm, Accessed March 4, 2022

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Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. Updated Apr 05
Medically reviewed by Dexter Macalintal, MD