Vaccine roll-out should be done in order of risk, study suggests
Vaccine strategies across Europe have been called into question after a large-scale analysis revealed that middle-aged people with type 2 diabetes have a disproportionately higher risk of dying from COVID-19. By evaluating published community and hospital data, the study, led by the University of Exeter Medical School in collaboration with Diabetes UK, showed that an additional COVID-19 mortality risk was associated with individuals with type 2 diabetes compared to those in a similar age group without type 2 diabetes. The results were shared in February 2021; the full report has been peer-reviewed and will be published in the EASD journal Diabetologia.
It has been reported that people with type 2 diabetes are not consistently prioritised for vaccination against the novel coronavirus across many European countries, posing a risk for middle-aged people who have an existing age-related risk of COVID-19. “It’s important to remember the risk to middle-aged people with diabetes of dying from COVID-19 is very low in absolute terms compared with the elderly. However, vaccine roll-out should be done in order of risk,” commented Dr Andrew McGovern, lead researcher from the study.
The study team, which included the University of Warwick, the Alan Turing Institute and University College London, evaluated published data from three UK studies involving tens of millions of people in the community and in hospitals. The data was used to evaluate the differences in the risk of death from COVID-19 by age, and whether an individual has a diagnosis of diabetes, most commonly type 2 diabetes. The analysis highlighted the additional effect of type 2 diabetes on the risk of dying from coronavirus. Dr John M Dennis from the University of Exeter Medical School spoke of the importance of the findings: “Our study highlights how we can use cutting-edge data science to provide precision diabetes research that can inform the complex real-time discussion on Europe-wide COVID-19 vaccination strategy.”
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, Dr Eleanor D Kennedy.