Health

Nearly 40% of all COVID-19 deaths in the US were among people with diabetes, expert suggests

Around 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. were among diabetes patients, a new study finds.

This means that of the more than 608,000 Americans who have died of the disease since the start he pandemic, about 240,000 had diabetes.

Diabetics only account for 10 percent of the population, making the figure a staggering reminder how deadly the virus can be for people with the condition.

The statistic was found by data analysis from the American Diabetes Association (ADA), which revealed the findings during a conference last week. 

Dr Robert Gabbay (right) said an analysis by the ADA finds that 40% of COVID-19 deaths in the United States were among diabetic people

Dr Robert Gabbay, chief scientific and medical officer of the ADA called the 40 percent figure ‘quite sobering’.

‘I can’t say this strongly enough, if you have diabetes, get vaccinated,’ he said during a conversation with HealthDay Now last week.

‘Speak to your health care provider, discuss your concerns. But with the risk of hospitalization and death related to COVID being six to 12 times higher for people with diabetes, it’s time to get vaccinated.’ 

Diabetes has long been known to be a comorbidity that could cause negative health outcomes for patients who contract COVID-19.  

People with poorly managed diabetes are more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit if they contract the virus. 

Managing diabetes in the United States is not easy, however.

Insulin, a drug that many diabetics are dependent on, has seen its price skyrocket in recent years.

One vial of insulin costed, on average, 75 cents per vial 60 years ago. It now costs around $250 per vial.

This makes purchasing insulin a challenge for the uninsured in America.

For some, choosing between buying insulin and groceries is a regular choice.  

‘Access to insulin is critically important,’ Gabbay said.

‘The pandemic has made this worse. We surveyed and identified that a number of individuals had less access to medication than they did prior to the pandemic. 

‘One of the things that the American Diabetes Association has been doing to advocate on this issue has been working state by state to pass legislation. We’ve now done it in 19 states, to limit the overall cost of insulin for many individuals in those states, so we’re continuing to advocate in all the other states, to make sure that everybody who needs insulin, can get it.’

Living with diabetes has become tough in America, partly due to surging insulin costs

Living with diabetes has become tough in America, partly due to surging insulin costs

States like Michigan have passed bill limiting out-of-pocket insulin costs to only $50 a month.

Gabbay warns that obesity becoming more common in the United States will make diabetes a bigger problem for the country as well.

Obesity is the main risk factor behind diabetes, and being obese makes someone 80 times more likely to develop the condition. 

An estimated 42 percent of Americans are obese, and 73 percent of Americans are overweight.

The country’s obesity rate may hit 50 percent by 2030. 

‘Obesity is rising, and is fueling the diabetes pandemic,’ Gabbay said. 

He also notes that the pandemic hurt Americans financially, forcing many to eat poorer diets than before. 

The ADA recommends all diabetics in America to get vaccinated when they can in order to prevent potential negative outcomes from the virus. 


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