Story at a glance

  • Michael Levitt analyzed data from 78 countries that have reported more than 50 new infections each day and found signs of recovery.
  • Levitt received the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing complex models of chemical systems.
  • The Nobel laureate accurately predicted the number of coronavirus cases and deaths in China.

A Nobel laureate and Stanford biophysicist estimates the United States may see a downturn in new coronavirus cases sooner than health experts have predicted, according to the Los Angeles Times

Stanford University biology professor Michael Levitt, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry, said his models do not support predictions the coronavirus will stick around for months or years and cause millions of deaths. He says the data do not support such an extreme scenario.

“What we need is to control the panic...we’re going to be fine,” Levitt told the Los Angeles Times.

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Levitt previously predicted accurately when China would get through the worst of its COVID-19 crisis. The Nobel Prize winner predicted China would peak around 80,000 cases and 3,250 deaths. He was not far off, as China has reported more than 81,000 cases with more than 3,200 deaths.

Levitt said he can see a better outcome in the U.S. than what has taken place in China, Italy or Iran, especially with social distancing measures in place. He said social-distancing mandates are critical in cutting the number of coronavirus cases. 


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He analyzed data from 78 countries that have reported more than 50 new infections each day and says he focuses on new cases rather than overall totals. Levitt said he sees “signs of recovery” in each of the countries. 

“Numbers are still noisy, but there are clear signs of slowed growth,” he said

Levitt did not offer a concrete date for when the U.S. may see a turning point against the outbreak, but added that “the real situation is not nearly as terrible as they make it out to be.”

Government leaders and health officials have ordered nonessential businesses in the U.S. to close and residents to confine themselves at home to avoid spreading COVID-19. Health officials inside the Trump administration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, an infectious diseases expert and member of the White House coronavirus task force, has said in interviews he believes it will be “at least several more weeks until people can start going about their lives in a more normal fashion.”

The U.S. has more than 55,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 800 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The U.S. is third behind Italy and China in the number of confirmed cases. Italy has the most amount of deaths with more than 6,800.

 

Published on Mar 25, 2020