The United States will get through the worst of the coronavirus outbreak sooner than many experts anticipate, Michael Levitt, a biophysicist at Stanford University and a Nobel laureate, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.
According to Levitt, who was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on complex models of chemical systems, the COVID-19 virus' spread in China has peaked, as seen by reports that the country has seen far fewer newly diagnosed patients since March 16, and the U.S. will see the virus' spread drop as more people embrace social distancing practices.
"What we need is to control the panic," he told the LA Times, adding that overall, "we're going to be fine," and noting that the data doesn't indicate months or years of social disruption or millions of deaths from the coronavirus.
Levitt said he examined 78 countries that each have reported 50 or more cases of the coronavirus every day, and that he found "signs of recovery" by focusing on the number of new cases identified per day.
"Numbers are still noisy, but there are clear signs of slowed growth," he said, admitting that the figures are not exact. He added that despite the incomplete information, "a consistent decline means there's some factor at work that is not just noise in the numbers."
Levitt said that social distancing measures will help slow the spread of the virus enough to keep hospitals from getting overwhelmed, and said that the media caused unnecessary panic with constant updates on the total number of cases and the various celebrities who have tested positive for COVID-19.
He added that 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."