MANILA - More than half or 53 percent of diabetic COVID-19 patients in the Philippines die after contracting the disease, an expert said Wednesday as she urged those with the comorbidity to get their booster shot against the coronavirus.
One in five virus patients or 20 percent are diabetic, according to Dr. Aurora Macaballug, member of the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism. She cited a study on Philippine COVID-19 outcomes conducted at the Philippine General Hospital.
The study found that 53 percent of COVID-19 outcomes resulted in death, 34 percent led to intensive care unit admission, and 30 percent resulted in respiratory failure, Macaballug said.
A person's immunity is lowered when they have high blood glucose, Macaballug added.
"Ang mga panlaban po ng mga katawan natin ay medyo bumababa po, kumpara po sa mga taong walang diabetes," she told reporters.
(The antibodies in a diabetic person's body is lower compared to that of a person without diabetes.)
"Based on a 2020 study, basta ang blood sugar ay controlled, between 70-180, kung magkasakit siya ng COVID, lower po ang mortality."
(Based on a 2020 study, if blood sugar is controlled or between 70-180, if a diabetic person contracts COVID, there is lower mortality rate.)
This is worsened by the cytokine storm, which severe COVID-19 patients experience, Macaballug said.
"Ano ang mga cytokine, ito po ang ating mga panlaban, tumataas kasi sila. Nagkakagulo po sila sa loob ng kanilang katawan, tumataas po ang infection at naapektuhan ang insulin sa katawan, so lalong tumataas ang blood sugar," she said.
(Cytokines fights off the virus. In a cytokine storm, they go off in a person's body, the severity of infection rises and the level of insulin is affected, leading to rise in blood sugar.)
There are also studies that show those who recovered from the disease are at risk for diabetes, Macaballug added.
"Pag nagka-COVID po, ang iba binibigyan ng steroid. Ang
steroid po, again, that’s another drug na pwede magpataas ng blood sugar," she said.
(If someone contracs COVID, they can be given steroid, which is another drug that can increase blood sugar.)
Vaccines offer the "best protection" against the respiratory illness, particularly the highly transmissible omicron variant, according to Macaballug.
"Pag ang taong may diabetes ang magka-COVID, mataas pa ang risk niya na severe ang kanyang infection dahil sa COVID-19," she said.
(If a person with diabetes contracts COVID, they have a higher risk of severe infection.)
It's important to get a booster shot as vaccine efficacy wanes over time and more so in diabetic patients, Macaballug said.
"'Pag uncontrolled ang diabetes, lalo pa pong may chance bumaba ang vaccine efficacy," she said.
(If diabetes is uncontrolled, there's a higher chance that vaccine efficacy will decrease.)
The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 93.1 percent of 14.5 million persons with comorbidities as of Monday, according to the Department of Health.
Only 11.8 million of some 45 million fully vaccinated individuals eligible for a booster shot have received it, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.