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‘Why were we not shielded from the beginning?’: Type 1 diabetics respond to high Covid-19 death rates

NHS England has confirmed Type 1 diabetics have a 3.5 times greater risk of dying from Covid-19, but the government still says diabetics do not need to shield. Sophie Gallagher speaks to those who feel ignored

Monday 08 June 2020 09:15 BST
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(Getty Images)

It was in late February when Katie*, 49, heard in the playground that a class from her son’s Essex school had been on a trip to Northern Italy over half term. The coronavirus was already spreading rapidly in the country and some of the first lockdowns in Europe were being implemented in the Lombardy province on 21 February. Despite such precautions being a month away for the UK, Katie made the decision to take Ben* out of school immediately.

Ben, 14, was diagnosed with type one diabetes in 2016; with no family history, the illness has taken over family life. On the morning we speak, Ben has already had two hypos (low blood sugar, which can cause shaking, dizziness, fast heart rate, blurred vision, confusion, and even seizures or collapse if not treated). “It’s like living on a seesaw 24/7,” Katie tells The Independent. “We count carbohydrates in everything and he cannot eat without having an injection.”

Although Katie was concerned about the spread of Covid-19, she says once the decision was taken to keep Ben at home, she felt reassured. “I felt things were under control as much as they could be,” she says. After all, diabetics were not (and still are not) on the government shielding list, so if anything the family were being overly-cautious.

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