Patients battling severe acute COVID-19 could be at risk of developing diabetes. This is according to a new study under review at Nature Portfolio.

Researchers found new evidence linking COVID-19 and newly diagnosed diabetes among patients in their study, currently posted on the Research Square preprint server.

The team acknowledged that there was no way to establish whether coronavirus infection increases the detection of pre-existing diabetes or if it is the one that induces a new-onset of the disease.

For the study, the researchers set up a global online registry of Covid-related diabetes with the help of a web-enabled data capture system called Dendrite Clinical Systems to find out whether COVID-19 can induce new-onset diabetes.

They analyzed clinical and laboratory data from cases of newly-diagnosed diabetes patients within four weeks after they contracted the virus. They focused on patients who did not have a diabetes history or those who did not use glucose-lowering medications before.

The researchers collected data from 537 eligible newly-diagnosed diabetes patients from 61 hospitals across 25 countries between 2020 and 2022. They found that 22% of the patients recently acquired diabetes. The most common was type 2 diabetes at 59%, followed by the “not yet known” subtype at 41%.

Moreover, two new diabetes cases accounted for type 1 diabetes, and they were recorded among children. Meanwhile, the diabetes symptoms persisted beyond the COVID-19 bout in 38 out of 89 patients.

The findings seemingly suggested that coronavirus infection clinically affects glucose metabolism in the body. Though the study was not able to prove how SARS-CoV-2 causes diabetes, it was able to show that the virus may play a role in the manifestation of the disease, according to Medical News.

Because of their findings, the team suggested diabetes screening for people who contract the virus and suffer severe COVID-19 illness. They also recognized that further research is needed to better understand how the virus specifically impacts glucose metabolism.

“This study shows clinical plausibility for a diabetogenic effect of COVID-19, supporting screening for diabetes in people who contract the infection. Further investigation is warranted to confirm mechanisms of viral interference with glucose metabolism,” the team wrote.

It was not the first time COVID-19 got linked to diabetes. A different study published in March last year found that the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in post-acute COVID-19 patients increased.