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German teenager believed to be the first person to have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after COVID-19

A German teenager is believed to the very first person to have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after being infected with COVID-19.

It is thought the 19-year-old caught coronavirus from his parents when they returned from their ski holiday.

Six weeks later, he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Although no one knows for sure why this has happened, recent research has suggested there is a link between both health conditions.

Studies have shown that the killer virus latches onto a protein called ACE2, which is found on pancreatic beta cells, which are supposed to produce insulin, the hormone that moderates blood sugar.

Corresponding author Professor Matthias Laudes, of University Medical Centre Schleswig-Holstein in Kiel, said: “Our report cannot fully establish causality between COVID-19 and the development of diabetes in this patient.

“But the virus’ entry receptors – including ACE2 – are expressed on pancreatic beta-cells. Given the circumstances we suggest COVID-19 might negatively affect pancreatic function – perhaps through direct effects on beta-cells.”

His findings suggest that COVID-19 attacks and kills the beta cells, so they stop working and producing insulin, which is when type 1 diabetes develops.

The teenager, who had lost a significant amount of weight in a short space of time, was admitted to hospital when he started showing symptoms of fatigue, exhaustion, excessive thirst and frequent urination.

A COVID-19 antibody test showed he had had the condition but did not realise as the teenager had none of the normal symptoms such as a temperature and frequent cough.

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