COVID-19 remains a global health emergency, with over 750 million confirmed cases and 7 million deaths caused by the virus. People living with diabetes can be more vulnerable to the severe effects of COVID-19.

A weakened immune system and a virus that thrives in high blood glucose environments are two reasons for this vulnerability. Studies have shown that poor blood glucose in people living with diabetes affected by COVID-19 can result in:

  • 40% increased risk of hospitalisation
  • Two to three times greater risk of severe illness, including death

Nevertheless, around 98% of people infected to date have survived.

COVID-19 spreads through air droplets and can survive for several hours to a few days in various conditions. The virus transmits through close contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces, followed by touching the mouth or nose.

COVID-19 vaccination is widely available and can considerably reduce the risk of catching the virus. IDF advises people living with diabetes to get vaccinated.

  • Make sure you have all relevant contact details in case you need them.
  • Pay extra attention to your glucose control. Regular monitoring can help avoid complications caused by high or low blood glucose.
  • If you show flu-like symptoms (raised temperature, cough, difficulty breathing), it is important to consult a healthcare professional. If you are coughing up phlegm, this may indicate an infection, so you should seek medical support and treatment immediately.
  • Any infection will raise your glucose levels and increase your need for fluids, so make sure you have a sufficient water supply.
  • Make sure you have a good supply of the diabetes medications you need. Think what you would need if you had to quarantine for a few weeks.
  • Make sure you have access to enough food.
  • Make sure you can treat sudden blood glucose drops.
  • If you live alone, make sure someone you can rely on knows you have diabetes, as you may need assistance if you get ill.
  • Keep a regular schedule, avoid overworking and have a good night’s sleep.

COVID-19 year three: the impact on diabetes care

On 21 April 2023, IDF hosted an online event that featured a global panel of experts discussing the impact of COVID-19 on diabetes care, three years after the start of the pandemic.

View the webinar
Cover of IDF Atlas Report on Covid-19 and diabetes

Diabetes and COVID-19 report

Diabetes is a strong risk factor for adverse COVID-19 outcomes. In 2021, the IDF Diabetes Atlas reported that individuals with diabetes experience a substantially greater likelihood of hospitalsation and death as a result of COVID-19 infections compared to those without.

A systematic review was performed in 2022 to assess the likelihood of adverse COVID-19 outcomes in relation to glycaemic control, blood glucose levels on admission to hospital, and diabetes subtype.

Download the report

Other Diabetes and Covid-19 resources


Diabetes and Covid-19: the risks of poor blood glucose control

An infographic highlighting the increased vulnerability of people living with diabetes to the severe outcomes of Covid-19 when blood glucose is not well-controlled.
IDF Atlas COVID Infographic-Final pdf 549KB