Study: Diabetes may increase long COVID-19 risk

A healthcare worker tends to a COVID-19 patient, at the Intensive Care Unit  of the Bellvitge University Hospital in Barcelona on Jan 19, 2022. (JOSEP LAGO / AFP)

BERLIN / NAIROBI – Diabetes may increase the risk of long COVID-19, new analyses of seven previous studies suggest.

In three of the studies, people with diabetes were up to four times more likely to develop long COVID compared to people without diabetes

Researchers reviewed studies that tracked people for at least four weeks after COVID-19 recovery to see which individuals developed persistent symptoms associated with long COVID-19 such as brain fog, skin conditions, depression, and shortness of breath. 

In three of the studies, people with diabetes were up to four times more likely to develop long COVID-19 compared to people without diabetes, according to a presentation on Sunday at the annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association. 

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The researchers said diabetes appears to be "a potent risk factor" for long COVID but their findings are preliminary because the studies used different methods, definitions of long COVID-19, and follow-up times, and some looked at hospitalized patients while others focused on people with milder cases of COVID-19.

"More high-quality studies across multiple populations and settings are needed to determine if diabetes is indeed a risk factor" for long COVID-19, the researchers said. "In the meantime, careful monitoring of people with diabetes… may be advised" after COVID-19.

People wait for their turn to get vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot in front of a bus containing a so-called rolling vaccination center, during a test run in Grosshartmannsdorf, Germany, on Feb 21, 2021. (ROBERT MICHAEL / DPA VIA AP)

Germany

German doctors on Thursday said that the collection and evaluation of data on COVID-19 should be ramped up to better assess the pandemic situation in the country.

"We have seen a real data blindness in the last two and a half years, which has not been a good basis for rational decision making," Klaus Reinhardt, president of the German Medical Association, told Funke Mediengruppe, Germany's third largest newspaper and magazine publisher.

Pandemic data must include infection dynamics, disease severity, as well as the burden on the country's healthcare system, according to Reinhardt.

Germany's COVID-19 expert council supports the call for a data collection scheme. 

A health worker fills a syringe with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as a team of personnel visit door-to-door to deliver the shots to people who live far from health facilities in Siaya, Kenya, May 18, 2021. (BRIAN ONGORO / AFP)

Kenya

The number of Kenyans getting COVID-19 vaccinations has increased significantly following a spike in new infections, the Ministry of Health said on Thursday.

At least 20,000 Kenyans are being vaccinated daily across the east African nation, an increase from an average of 3,000 in the last three months when infections had plummeted.

The ministry said it vaccinated 24,798 people on Wednesday, and on Tuesday, 23,514 took the jabs, according to the ministry.

So far, the country has vaccinated 18.3 million citizens, among whom 16.5 million are adults, noted the ministry.

Since March, vaccination had slowed down, but a rise in new cases to stand at 202 from a sample size of 2,787 on Thursday has jolted citizens.

On Wednesday, the country recorded 218 positive cases, the highest in recent times, from a sample size of 3,317, said Mutahi Kagwe, the cabinet secretary for health. Kenya's total confirmed cases now stand at 326,217.

The government has asked citizens to wear masks in public places and get vaccinated following the sharp rise in cases.

Rwanda

COVID-19 vaccine maker BioNTech said construction of an mRNA vaccine factory to enable African nations to jump-start their own manufacturing network would start on June 23 in Rwanda.

The groundbreaking ceremony in the capital city of Kigali is to be attended by Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, further heads of African states, as well as representatives from the European Union and the World Health Organization, the biotech firm said in a statement on Thursday.

The German company's modular factory elements, to be assembled in Africa to so-called BioNTainers, would be delivered to the Kigali construction site by the end of 2022, it added.