The COVID-19 pandemic has left an indelible mark on our lives in more ways than one. Beyond the immediate health concerns, there has been a growing concern regarding the long-term effects of the virus on various aspects of our health. One such concern is the increasing number of new onset diabetes cases. There appears to be a possible connection with both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, there are emerging reports suggesting that COVID-19 may also be linked to the development of Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA).
The Surge in New Onset Diabetes Cases
While diabetes has long been a global health issue, the post-COVID era has seen a notable uptick in new cases of diabetes. One study suggests that there may be 1.3 million more cases of diabetes in the United States due to COVID. (Reference: Cleveland Clinic)
Reports of LADA Diabetes after Covid Infection or Covid Vaccine
Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults (LADA) is a lesser-known form of diabetes that is caused by an autoimmune condition. It has a gradual onset and often presents like Type 2 Diabetes, but is actually more similar to Type 1. There have been reports of individuals developing LADA after Covid infection. Also, researchers from the New York Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, USA published a reported connection with the Covid Vaccine in the paper titled “COVID-19 Vaccine-Induced Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults.”
The Role of Infections in Triggering Autoimmune Diabetes
Autoimmune diabetes, whether Type 1 or LADA, arises when the immune system mistakenly targets and destroys insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. Infections like COVID-19 can potentially trigger this process. When the body fights off a viral infection, it can sometimes misidentify its cells, including pancreatic cells, as invaders, leading to an autoimmune attack.
Research on Diabetes & COVID Connection
- Can COVID-19 Cause Diabetes? Early studies have linked the two, but more research is needed. Cleveland Clinic analyzes the studies. There is a correlation between COVID and diabetes, but correlation does not prove causation.
- SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Development of Islet Autoimmunity in Early Childhood. This study found that children with high risk of developing Type 1 were more likely to get Type 1 after SARS-CoV-2 infection.
- COVID-19 Vaccine-Induced Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults by Klynt Bally, Beisi Ji, and Lina Soni. Cureus. 2023 Jan; 15(1): e33762. A case of a 64 year old being diagnosed with LADA after Covid vaccine. Researchers say this is the first case they know of.
- Development of Islet Antigen 2 (IA2) Antibodies Post-COVID-19 Infection: A Sign of Autoimmunity or Latent Autoimmune Diabetes Mellitus in Adults (LADA)? (June, 2023) Discusses autoantibodies appearing after COVID 19 infection.
- SARS-CoV-2 infection induces beta cell transdifferentiation. From the summary: “Recent clinical data have suggested a correlation between coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and diabetes. Here, we describe the detection of SARS-CoV-2 viral antigen in pancreatic beta cells in autopsy samples from individuals with COVID-19.”
- SARS-CoV-2 infects and replicates in cells of the human endocrine and exocrine pancreas
About the Author
Lin May has a decade of experience living with LADA diabetes and is the author of Success with LADA Diabetes: Achieving Optimal Health with Diet, Exercise, and Insulin. She is dedicated to helping others learn about diabetes.