France’s chief epidemiologist has warned that obesity was a major risk for the people to get infected with the novel coronavirus. The epidemiologist – Professor Jean-Franois Delfraissy – has informed that as many as 17 million people of France were seriously at risk from the coronavirus because of age, pre-existing illness of obesity. “The deadly virus is terrible, it can hit young people, in particular obese young people. Those who are overweight really need to be careful,” he warned. Commenting on the United States, the epidemiologist claimed that the country was particularly vulnerable because of high obesity levels there. The mortality rate for young people entering hospital with severe Covid-19 respiratory disease was about 2pc, he said, but that rose to 14pc for people who are more fragile. Despite the rapid spread of the virus in France, the country is still far from getting to the point where 50pc to 60pc of the population has been infected and recovered and at which point a certain level of “herd immunity” is reached, Delfraissy said. “Initial data show that the number of people who may have developed immunity is lower than we imagined, about 10-15pc,” said the veteran infectious diseases specialist who has led French research into Ebola and AIDS. He said it was too soon to end France’s lockdown, which started March 17 and is set to last until at least April 15.