Coronavirus isn't as bad as expected: Michael Levitt

Grant Boone
March 25, 2020

Michael Levitt, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013, analyzed 78 nations that have reported over 50 new COVID-19 cases every day and said he has seen "signs of recovery", Israeli daily Calcalist reported.

The number of the deaths will slow down even more over the next week, the Nobel laureate said. He has been focusing on the number of new cases identified every day rather than the total number of cases in a country. "Around the last week of February, Levitt reportedly told China Daily News that the virus" rate of growth had peaked.

Still, even with the incomplete data, he believes that the consistent decline could only mean that there are factors at work and not just some noise in the numbers.

While his observation brings hope for millions of people across the world, Levitt emphasises on the significance of the ongoing mitigation efforts by countries.

Nobel laureate scientist Michael Levitt claimed that the coronavirus epidemic has slowed in China and will no longer pose a threat to the majority of people.

"What we need is to control the panic", he said.

The trajectory of deaths backs up his findings, he said. "The goal is not to reach the situation the cruise ship experienced". In fact, Levitt said he is for taking strong measures to fight the outbreak and believes that social distancing is a "critical" tool.But it doesn't pay to panicOn the whole, Levitt feels there is unnecessary panic due to an nearly exclusive focus on the galloping number of cases.

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He also blamed media for causing unnecessary panic which focuses on the increasing trend of infections and spotlighting infected celebrities, the virus can grow exponentially, he said, only when undetected, unreported and none is acting to control it, Levitt said. By contrast, the flu has sickened 36 million Americans since September and killed an estimated 22,000, according to the CDC, but those deaths are largely unreported.

Levitt said that overreaction could trigger another crisis, with lost jobs and hopelessness around. Time and again, researchers have seen that suicide rates go up when the economy spirals down.

In addition, he says that the anti-vaccination mentality of Italy was perhaps one of the strong reasons why the virus spread so rapidly in Italy. That's what happened in South Korea, when it ripped through a closed-off cult that refused to report the illness.

Though fatality rates are higher than the flu, Levitt said the pandemic is "not the end of the world", according to the outlet.

Based on the experience of the Diamond Princess, he estimates that being exposed to the new coronavirus doubles a person's risk of dying in the next two months.

However, Levitt says the data does not support these situations, especially for places that have put in place reasonable precautionary measures like social distancing and even for ones that haven't instilled stricter measures as China did.

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