Our research — recently highlighted by the American Diabetes Association and Healio — continues to demonstrate that children and young adults with both type 1 diabetes and other comorbidities face the highest risk of being hospitalized with Covid-19. Comorbidities are essentially other health conditions in addition to T1D, including obesity, asthma, Celiac disease, hypertension, heart disease, etc.

Further, this research from the T1D Exchange Quality Improvement Collaborative (T1DX-QI) emphasizes that people of color face with comorbidities a significantly higher risk of hospitalization.

Despite the mellowing of its severity in newer variants, the short and long-term risks that can come with the virus shouldn’t be taken lightly if you have T1D.

“By broadening our understanding of risk factors for severe Covid infection, we are better able to tailor treatment and infection mitigation strategies for our population of youth living with type 1 diabetes,” explains Elizabeth A. Mann, MD, pediatric endocrinologist and assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

Mann and her clinical team are part of the T1DX-QI, working intensely since the early months of the pandemic to identify the impact of the virus on people with T1D. The findings from this cross-sectional, multi-institutional surveillance study included 651 young people with T1D and confirmed Covid-19. Through the T1DX-QI, these participants’ experience of the virus was carefully tracked.

Key findings from this study include:

  • Asthma and/or obesity were the most reported comorbidities in the study
  • People with comorbidities were less likely to use continuous glucose monitors (CGMs)
  • People with comorbidities were twice as likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19
  • People with asthma were three times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19

“We have to better understand the relationship between each of these comorbidities and how they contribute to more severe Covid outcomes,” explains Mann, “and the role of diabetes in moderating this risk.”

The T1DX-QI also launched the Health Equity Advancement Lab (HEAL) program in April 2021 to better understand and address the ever-present issue of health inequity amongst people with T1D.

HEAL’s research thus far includes:

  • identifying factors that worsen T1D healthcare
  • identifying factors that impact A1c results
  • Identifying how a person’s race/ethnicity affects overall T1D care

With a recent uptick in Covid-19 cases this winter, individuals and families with T1D should take extra precautions. If you do test positive for Covid-19, reach out to your healthcare team for a prescription for Paxlovid — an antiviral 5-day medication that can significantly lessen the severity of Covid-19. Paxlovid is only approved for use in higher-risk individuals, including those with T1D.