Opinion Review
Copyright ©The Author(s) 2021. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Diabetes. Mar 15, 2021; 12(3): 198-205
Published online Mar 15, 2021. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v12.i3.198
Diabetes and COVID-19: Diseases of racial, social and glucose intolerance
Tahseen A Chowdhury
Tahseen A Chowdhury, Department of Diabetes and Metabolism, The Royal London Hospital, London E1 1BB, United Kingdom
Author contributions: The author conceived of the manuscript and wrote the entire manuscript on his own.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The author declares no conflicts of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/Licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Tahseen A Chowdhury, FRCP, MD, Professor, Department of Diabetes and Metabolism, The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, London E1 1BB, United Kingdom. tahseen.chowdhury@nhs.net
Received: November 25, 2020
Peer-review started: November 26, 2020
First decision: December 20, 2020
Revised: January 7, 2021
Accepted: January 22, 2021
Article in press: January 22, 2021
Published online: March 15, 2021

Diabetes and coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are worldwide pandemics that have had a major impact on public health throughout the globe. Risk factors for developing diabetes and having adverse outcomes of COVID-19 appear to be similar; metabolic factors (such as obesity), non-White ethnicity and poorer socioeconomic status appear to be risk factors for both. Diabetes and COVID-19 have a significant effect on populations adversely affected by health inequality. Whilst we hope that COVID-19 will be mitigated by widespread use of vaccines, no such prospect exists for mitigating the pandemic of diabetes. In this brief opinion review, I compare risk factors for diabetes and adverse outcomes of COVID-19 and argue that tackling health and social inequality is likely to play a major role in solving the global diabetes pandemic and improve outcomes of COVID-19.

Keywords: Diabetes, COVID-19, Ethnicity, Health inequality, Social inequality, Risk factors

Core Tip: Diabetes and coronavirus disease 2019 are both global pandemics that cause more severe disease in people of non-White ethnicity and lower socioeconomic status. Improving social justice and reducing health inequalities will reduce the risk of both conditions considerably.