Professor Jean-François Delfraissy, who heads the scientific council that's advising the French government on the pandemic, estimates that as many as 17 million of France's 67 million citizens are at serious risk of infection and associated complications due to age, preexisting illness, and/or obesity – which common sense dictates also applies to those living the United States.
While as many as 88 percent of those who become infected with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) develop severe flu-like symptoms that eventually pass, the rest often end up suffering worse symptoms that require hospitalization, which is where it's discovered that, in many cases, these folks are also abnormally large.
"This virus is terrible," Delfraissy told franceinfo radio. "It can hit young people, in particular obese young people. Those who are overweight really need to be careful."
"This is why we're worried about our friends in America, where the problem of obesity is well known and where they will probably have the most problems because of obesity," he added.
As it turns out, even young people who are fat have a much higher risk – up to sevenfold – of developing respiratory diseases that require hospitalization compared to their healthy weight counterparts.
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Delfraissy's findings help to provide clarity as to the higher than average per-capita rates of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) in places like New Orleans, which just so happens to be one of the fattest cities in America. It also provides guidance as to the need for more public health initiatives aimed at getting people to slim down for their own protection.
"We're just sick," says Rebekah Gee, a former health secretary in Louisiana and the current head of Louisiana State University's healthcare services division. "We already had tremendous healthcare disparities before this pandemic – one can only imagine they are being amplified now."
According to Dr. John Morton, who heads up bariatric surgery at Yale Medicine, the reason why fat people tend to have more severe cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) and its associated respiratory problems is because of all that extra weight they're carrying around, which inhibits normal breathing.
"There's something called hypoventilation syndrome, and that is when you have extra tissue around your chest," he's quoted as saying. "It's harder to take deep breaths."
"Patients who carry extra weight sometimes don't have an immune system that's working as well as it could be," he added, noting that being obese increases one's risk of developing other health problems such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Because the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) appears to use a "door" to get inside the lungs – this door is known as the ACE-2 receptor – and because this door is made in fat cells known as adipocytes, obese people are prime candidates for easy infection with the virus.
"The mortality rates by last report in New Orleans were seven times higher than what they were seeing in New York," Dr. Morton further notes, which corresponds with data showing that a whopping 65 percent of the population in Louisiana at large is overweight or obese.
"It has a lot to do with the population: it's considerably more obese (and) has a lot more medical problems."
To keep up with the latest news about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), be sure to check out Pandemic.news.
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