The lock was a waste of time and could kill more than it saved, says Nobel laureate

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The coronavirus lockdown could have caused more deaths than it saved, said a Nobel Prize-winning scientist.

Michael Levitt, a professor at Stanford University who correctly predicted the initial magnitude of the pandemic, suggested that the decision to keep people inside was motivated by “panic” rather than better science.

Professor Levitt also said that the modeling that led the government to impose the foreclosure – done by Professor Neil Ferguson – had overestimated the number of deaths by “10 or 12 times”.

Michael Levitt, professor at Stanford University and Nobel Prize winner, correctly predicted the scale of the pandemic as Imperial College government adviser Neil Ferguson

Michael Levitt, professor at Stanford University and Nobel Prize winner, correctly predicted the magnitude of the pandemic as Imperial College government adviser Neil Ferguson

Professor Levitt told the Telegraph: “I think the lock-up has not saved any lives. I think it may have cost lives. It will have saved a few lives from traffic accidents, things like that, but the social damage – domestic abuse, divorce, alcoholism – has been extreme.

“And then you have those who have not been treated for other conditions.

Professor Levitt, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2013 for “developing multiscale models for complex chemical systems,” said for two months that most expert predictions about the coronavirus were wrong.

He also believes that the government should encourage the British to wear masks and find other ways to continue working while distancing themselves socially.

When passengers on the Diamond Princess cruise ship fell ill, he predicted on March 14 that the UK would lose about 50,000 lives.

Professor Ferguson’s modeling, on the other hand, estimated that up to 500,000 deaths would occur without social distancing measures.

Professor Levitt added, “For reasons that were not clear to me, I think the leaders panicked and people panicked. There has been a huge lack of discussion. “

The 73-year-old Nobel laureate is not an epidemiologist, but he assessed the epidemic in China at the start of the crisis and made alternative predictions based on his own calculations.

Although Professor Levitt recognizes that blockages can be effective, he describes them as “medieval” and believes that epidemiologists exaggerate their claims so that people are more likely to listen to them.

His comments come as other scientists working in the same field also reported that they could not verify Professor Ferguson’s work.

Research by competing scientists – whose models have produced very different results – has been largely overlooked by government advisers.

David Richards, co-founder of British data technology company WANdisco, said Ferguson’s model was a “buggy mess that looks more like a bowl of angel-haired pasta than a piece of fine programming.” rule “.

Professor Neil Ferguson's predictions prompted the government to impose a lockdown, but his models could have overestimated the spread of the virus by hundreds of thousands

Professor Neil Ferguson’s predictions prompted the government to impose a lockdown, but his models could have overestimated the spread of the virus by hundreds of thousands

Richards said, “In our commercial reality, we would fire anyone to develop code like this and any company that depended on it to produce software for sale would likely go bankrupt. “

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have also reportedly found bugs when the model was run, obtaining different results when using different machines, or even the same machines in some cases.

The team reported a “bug” in the system that has been fixed – but experts in the field remain amazed at its inadequacy.

Four experienced modelers have previously noted that the code is “deeply bug-ridden”, has “huge blocks of code – bad practice” and is “probably the worst production code I have ever seen”.

After the model’s grim prediction, Professor Michael Thursdayfield of the University of Edinburgh criticized Professor Ferguson’s file as “irregular”.

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