Professor Michael Levitt of Stanford University predicts that the UK will be rid of Covid-19 within weeksBy Tom Morgan 23 May 2020 • 9:30pm
Lockdown caused more deaths than it saved, a Nobel laureate scientist said on Saturday, as he predicted the UK would emerge from Covid-19 within weeks.
Michael Levitt, a Stanford University professor who correctly predicted the initial trajectory of the pandemic, sent messages to Professor Neil Ferguson in March telling the influential government advisor he had over-estimated the potential death toll by “10 or 12 times”.
The Imperial College professor’s modelling, a major factor in the Government’s apparent abandoning of a so-called herd-immunity policy, was part of an unnecessary “panic virus” which spread among global political leaders, Prof Levitt now tells the Telegraph.
Prof Levitt, a British-American-Israeli who shared the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2013 for the “development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems”, has said for two months that the planet will beat coronavirus faster than most other experts predict.
“I think lockdown saved no lives,” said the scientist, who added that the Government should have encouraged Britons to wear masks and adhere to other forms of social distancing.
“I think it may have cost lives. It will have saved a few road accident lives – things like that – but social damage – domestic abuse, divorces, alcoholism – has been extreme. And then you have those who were not treated for other conditions.”Professor Michael Lveitt won the 2013 Nobel Prize in ChemistryProfessor Michael Lveitt won the 2013 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Having assessed the initial outbreak in China and from the infected Diamond Princess cruise ship, he predicted by March 14 that the UK would lose around 50,000 lives. Prof Ferguson’s modelling that same week estimated up to 500,000 deaths without social distancing measures.
“I think that the real virus was the panic virus,” Prof Levitt told the Telegraph. “For reasons that were not clear to me, I think the leaders panicked and the people panicked and I think there was a huge lack of discussion.”
“The problem with epidemiologists is that they feel their job is to frighten people into lockdown, social distancing. So you say ‘there’s going to be a million deaths’ and when there are only 25,000 you say ‘it’s good you listened to my advice’. This happened with Ebola and bird flu. It’s just part of the madness.”
Prof Levitt says the global evidence shows the virus fades in dry heat and in much of the western world “there seems to be some kind of immunity”. “The main worry I would have would be in China,” he said when asked about the prospect of a second outbreak. “I am 73 and I feel very young,” he added. “I don’t care about the risk at all. As you get old the risk of dying from disease is so high that this is the time to buy a motorcycle, go skiing!”