A Ray of Optimism amid Global Fear

Source: Jerusalem Post

The coronavirus epidemic is slowing down in China, and will not pose a risk to the majority of people, an Israeli Nobel Prize laureate has said.

Michael Levitt, an American-British-Israeli biophysicist who won the 2013 Nobel prize for chemistry for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems,” has become something of a household name in China over the last few months. Although his specialty is not in epidemiology, he accurately forecast the slowing down of the spread of the virus in February, giving hope to those affected by the lockdown.

But far from being a modern-day prophet, he explained in an interview with Calcalist that he simply crunched the numbers.

Levitt’s wife, Shoshan Brosh, is a researcher of Chinese art, meaning that the couple regularly travels between America, Israel and China. Consequently, when the virus broke out in Hubei province, Levitt wrote to his Chinese friends in support.

“When they answered us, describing how complicated their situation was, I decided to take a deeper look at the numbers in the hope of reaching some conclusion,” Levitt explained. “The rate of infection of the virus in the Hubei province increased by 30% each day — that is a scary statistic. I am not an influenza expert but I can analyze numbers and that is exponential growth.”

Had the growth continued at that rate, the whole world would have become infected within 90 days. But as Levitt continued to process the numbers, the pattern changed. On February 1, when he first looked at the statistics, Hubei Province had 1,800 new cases a day. By February 6, that number had reached 4,700 new cases a day.

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