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COVID-19 Resource Center

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
April 13, 2021
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No difference in COVID-19 antibody prevalence in people with, without type 1 diabetes

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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People with type 1 diabetes in Colorado did not have a significant difference in the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies compared with those without diabetes, according to a brief report published in Diabetes Technology & Therapeutics.

“Although our data are preliminary, we did not find statistical differences in the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in people with type 1 diabetes and the general population,” Liping Yu, MD, an associate research professor of pediatrics at the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, and colleagues wrote. “This observation needs to be confirmed in a larger sample with multivariate adjustment for age, month of blood draw and potentially other confounders, for example, occupation and ethnicity.”

Doctor Holding Test Tube That Reads COVID-19
Source: Adobe Stock

Researchers used a fluid-phase assay to detect COVID-19 total antibodies, independent of the specific isotype. In validation testing of 58 people who previously tested positive for COVID-19 and had serum samples available from before the pandemic, the antibody test had a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 99.9%. In addition, repeat testing of a subset of 31 people showed COVID-19 antibodies remained positive for up to 9 months after infection.

Researchers recruited 223 people with type 1 diabetes from the Barbara Davis Center for Diabetes clinics and tested them for COVID-19 antibodies from Jan. 3 to Oct. 16, 2020. Researchers also tested children without diabetes participating in the Autoimmunity Screening for Kids study who were screened between July 8 and Oct. 23, 2020 (n = 562), as well as their parents (n = 102), to serve as the general population cohort.

Of the group with type 1 diabetes, 129 had new-onset diabetes and 94 had established diabetes. Those with established diabetes had a higher prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies compared with people with new-onset type 1 diabetes (4.3% vs. 0.8%; P = .17). The established diabetes subgroup was older than the new-onset cohort (mean age, 20.7 years vs. 12.3 years).

“Although the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in persons with established type 1 diabetes was not significantly higher than in those newly diagnosed, a small difference could be due to the older age of these individuals or diabetes being a potential risk factor for COVID-19 disease,” the researchers wrote.

In the general population, 2.8% of children tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies and 3.9% of adults had COVID-19 antibodies. The prevalence was not significantly different compared with the prevalence of antibodies in people with type 1 diabetes.

“Future larger studies are warranted to determine the seroprevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in diabetes populations, and verify whether these antibodies provide immunity to repeat exposure in people with diabetes,” the researchers wrote.