Why are people with diabetes listed as high risk?
People with diabetes are more likely to become severely ill for a longer duration than people without diabetes. However, we are at lower risk than those with other chronic medical conditions. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) show that 42% of people with diabetes who acquire coronavirus do not require hospitalization, 32% require non-ICU (intensive care unit) hospitalization, and 19% require ICU admission. That compares to 84%, 7%, and 2% of people without any chronic health conditions.
According to a report on 44,672 confirmed cases of the disease from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention in February, the overall case-fatality rate (CFR) at that stage was 2.3% (1,023 deaths of the 44,672 confirmed cases). The data indicated that the CFR was elevated among COVID-19 patients with preexisting comorbid conditions, specifically, cardiovascular disease (CFR, 10.5%), diabetes (7.3%), chronic respiratory disease (6.3%), hypertension (6%), and cancer (5.6%). However, these statistics do not differentiate between people who have type 1 or type 2 diabetes and their level of glucose control, whether they had more than one condition (such as diabetes AND renal impairment or diabetes AND hypertension), and were not adjusted for age. We know that older persons are at higher risk for severe illness and are also at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, so there would be an anticipated correlation between diabetes and CFR.
Therefore, people with diabetes may be at higher risk because they get lumped into one massive group that includes people who tend to be older and have many other health problems. Endocrinologists have reported not seeing a higher than normal infection rate among their patients, and that those with good glycemic control have not shown any increase in rates or severity of disease.