Nobel chemistry prize-winner Professor Michael Levitt said Australia’s COVID-19 response made the country a “stand out loser.”
Speaking to UnHerd in a video published on May 2, Levitt argued that herd immunity was the way countries should have fought the outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus.
“I see the standout winners as Germany and Sweden. They didn’t practice too much lockdown, and they got enough people sick to get some herd immunity,” he said. “I see the standout losers as countries like Austria, Australia, and Israel that had very strict lockdown but didn’t have many cases.”
He said that Australia, Austria, and Israel implemented strict lockdowns, despite low case numbers, and that has “damaged their economies, caused massive social damage, damaged the educational year of their children, but not obtained any herd immunity.”
Levitt, a professor of structural biology at the Standford School of Medicine, won the Nobel Prize in 2013 for “the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems.”
In the interview, Levitt said that he has been watching the trajectory of the CCP virus around the world since January and he believes countries should have instituted “smart lockdown measures” that reduce damage to the economy.
“There is no doubt in my mind, that when we come to look back on this, the damage done by lockdown will exceed any saving of lives by a huge factor,” he said.
Levitt cited unproven studies that reported children do not infect adults as one of the key reasons he believes countries could be opening up.
Currently, there are differing opinions around the question of whether children are safe from the virus. For example, in Australia, there is currently a 7-year-old boy from New South Wales who has COVID-19.
Germany’s chief virologist Christian Drosten was part of a team that released a study (pdf) on April 30 that found children and adults hold the same amounts of the virus in themselves.
In the study, Drosten said, “In particular, these data indicate that viral loads in the very young do not differ significantly from those of adults.”
“Based on these results, we have to caution against an unlimited re-opening of schools and kindergartens in the present situation” because “children may be as infectious as adults,” he concluded.
Viral loads by PCR as seen in our laboratories. No significant difference between children and adults. Age categories: Kindergarten (KG), Grade school (GS), Highschool (HS), etc. with age ranges and (counts). https://t.co/xunzyHEi47 pic.twitter.com/je73hsKrZb
— Christian Drosten (@c_drosten) April 29, 2020
In Australia, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy has said recent studies (pdf) in Australia had not demonstrated transmission between children.
At a press conference on May 3, Murphy said, “Our advice is that transmission between children in schools is not well established, and in fact, there’s increasing data that it is uncommon.”
“Particularly now, data from Europe and the New South Wales Health study we think that children are not high transmitters of this virus in the school environment,” he continued.
Australia currently has 6,801 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 5817 have recovered, and 95 people have died due to the disease.