CHICAGO -- As part of a weekly, hourlong webinar focused on COVID-19, the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs at Northwestern University hosted Dr. Robert Murphy, executive director of the university's Institute for Global Health and a professor of infectious diseases at the Feinberg School of Medicine, to provide insight into the virus and its effects. He's an expert in HIV infection, viral hepatitis, antiviral drug development and global health.
Murphy's presentation, "Blunting the Impact of COVID-19," refers to the graph of the line that marks the passage of time and the number of fatalities. The higher the bump, the more deaths. "Blunting" the bump means decreasing the number of deaths. Murphy discussed the mortality rate of coronavirus, its impact on the health care system and what measures we can take to lessen its consequences.
Here's some of what we learned. Answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Q. Have we learned anything new about the virus?
A. Loss of smell may be one of the first symptoms of COVID-19.
Q. When should we expect more serious death numbers?
A. The model shows that the U.S. is in the peak infection stage, but the damage will occur later in the year. The peak damage estimate is during May through June.
Q. How many people should we be testing right now?
A. We should be testing 4,000 people in Illinois daily and 100,000 people in the United States daily. "We are not doing that," Murphy said.
Q. Why do we keep hearing experts say that testing is important?