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Charities pledge £315K for diabetes and COVID-19 research

By Editor
7th July 2020
Charity, Coronavirus Research

Three leading diabetes charities have joined forces and pledged a total of £315,000 to research COVID-19 and its impact on people with diabetes.

Diabetes UK, JDRF and Moorfields Eye Charity are supporting four studies which will look at which people with the condition are most at risk of more severe COVID-19 symptoms, risk factors for those with diabetes when they become infected and the effects of disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic on people with diabetes’ vision.

Although we know that people with type 1 diabetes are at greater risk if they develop COVID-19, we know very little about how this translates to people’s experiences of the pandemic Professor Kathleen Gillespie, University of Bristol

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, the Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic presents an especially challenging time for people living with diabetes. That’s why we are delighted to partner with JDRF and Moorfields Eye Charity and commit funding to four new projects that will provide much needed insights about the impact of COVID 19 on people with diabetes.

“By understanding how the virus affects people with diabetes and who might be more at risk of poor outcomes, we will be better able to provide the care, information and reassurance they need during this difficult time.”

Support and protect

The fourth study will focus on how the virus impacts people with type 1 diabetes as NHS figures have shown that those with the condition at a higher risk of becoming seriously unwell.

Professor Kathleen Gillespie, at the University of Bristol, will be leading the study and working with a team in Milan who have developed a test that can detect coronavirus antibodies in a small sample of blood.

By offering this test to around 5,000 people already participating in ongoing studies of type 1 diabetes (the Bart’s Oxford study and UK TrialNet), Professor Gillespie will be able to estimate how many people have contracted coronavirus.

She will also ask participants to share their experiences of COVID-19 and lockdown – including whether they have been shielding, if they have had any COVID-19 symptoms, and how their blood glucose levels have reacted.

With this information, Professor Gillespie will be able to see how the type 1 diabetes community has been hit by COVID-19.

This will give scientists and clinicians a clearer idea of the risk that coronavirus poses to people with type 1, enabling healthcare teams to better support and protect people with the condition.

Professor Gillespie said: “Although we know that people with type 1 diabetes are at greater risk if they develop COVID-19, we know very little about how this translates to people’s experiences of the pandemic.

“With this research, we hope to get a much clearer idea of how the type 1 diabetes community has been affected by coronavirus, and how they can be kept safe and well in future.”

Rachel Connor, UK Director of Research Partnerships at JDRF, said: “Everyone with type 1 diabetes is different, and Professor Gillespie’s work will shed some much-needed light on the individual experiences behind the statistics.

“We’re hopeful that with this information, policymakers and healthcare teams will be able to give people with type 1 diabetes the advice and support they need.”

Photo by Vincent Ghilione on Unsplash

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