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.
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.