Michael Levitt, an American-British-Israeli biophysicist who received the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing complex models of chemical systems, has an optimistic take on the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
In his view, the fast-spreading disease is likely to come to a halt, but gradually. Levitt, whose specialty is not in epidemiology, cited the slowing rate of increase in the number of deaths in China to support his hypothesis.
Levitt said that just like China, the United States too will get through the worst of the coronavirus outbreak sooner than many specialists anticipate, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday.
The laureate had already started studying the number of coronavirus cases around the world back in January this year. According to him, the world needs to control the panic, and abide by the reasonable social distancing measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Levitt's statistical findings had in February anticipated that there would be around 80,000 number of confirmed cases in China with about 3,250 deaths. And his forecast turned out to be almost correct with a total tally of about 80,298 cases and 3,245 deaths by the mid-February. He said, despite the spread of coronavirus peaking in China, the country has been witnessing fewer newly diagnosed patients since March 16.
"We're going to be fine," he told the LA Times, adding that the data doesn't indicate months or years of social disruption or millions of deaths from the coronavirus.
After analysing the data from 78 countries that reported over 50 new cases of virus every single day, Michael Levitt found some "signs of recovery". His core focus was not on the cumulative figure, but on the number of new cases identified every day -- and, particularly, on the change in that number from one day to the next.
"Numbers are still noisy but there are clear signs of slowed growth," he told the LA Times, asserting that, social distancing and getting vaccinated against the flu are both very crucial to curb the spread.
Levitt said the media is causing unnecessary panic with constant updates on the total number of cases and the celebrities who tested positive for Covid-19, and further added that social distancing measures can help curtail the spread of the coronavirus to keep the already-burdened hospitals from getting overwhelmed.
He also talked about how the anti-vaccine movement in virus-crippled Italy was a significant factor in the upsurge of cases, which increased the chances of coronavirus going undetected.
Italy's strong anti-vaccine movement, he explained, likely played a factor in the explosion of cases, because the spread of the flu likely was a factor in overwhelming hospitals and increasing the chances of coronavirus going undetected.
He also expressed his concern that an overreaction could cause another crisis, with unemployment and hopelessness creating more problems, like rise in suicide rate and slowing economies.
"Despite the virus having a higher fatality rate than the flu, it's not the end of the world... the real situation is not nearly as terrible as they make it out to be", Levitt said.
Levitt has also gone ahead to make a bold claim that the virus is likely to disappear from China by the end of March.
Levitt also claims that most individuals are naturally immune to Covid-19 by pointing out that despite the virus getting ideal operating conditions in the cruise ship Diamond Princess, via centralised air-conditioning and communal dining rooms, only 20 per cent were affected.
With regards to other countries Levitt says that South Korea is already past the median point and Italy's higher death rate is the result of a higher percentage of ageing population.