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The infectious disease expert who served as an adviser on the 2011 movie “Contagion” has contracted the coronavirus, and now he’s warning that if it could happen to him, it could happen to anyone.
“This has become very personal for me, too,” he said moments after coughing during the interview, in which the two had been discussing potential new treatments for coronavirus. “I have COVID as of yesterday. And it is miserable.”
The interview was being conducted remotely, with Asman in a studio and Lipkin at a separate location.
“I heard you cough, I didn’t wanna be a hypochondriac and say, I hope you don’t have it,” Asman replied. “But you do.”
“If it can hit me, it can hit anybody,” Lipkin said. “That’s the message I wanna convey.”
Lipkin, “one of the world’s foremost microbe hunters,” signed on to consult director Steven Soderbergh on “Contagion” in an effort to raise public awareness about modern public health challenges, according to a university newsletter promoting the movie and the doctor’s expertise.
“Dr. Lipkin hopes that ‘Contagion’ will be a wake-up call for the public that today’s fiction could easily become fact tomorrow,” the 2011 document said. Part of the goal was to both entertain and educate viewers with a realistic plot.
The movie starred Matt Damon and portrayed health care workers, government officials and everyday citizens amid a fictional pandemic.
Lipkin had also worked on the SARS outbreak in China in 2003, according to USA Today, when he became ill after assisting the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese Health Ministry.
Applying his expertise to the current U.S. outbreak of COVID-19, Lipkin called for communities across the country to adopt standardized coronavirus restrictions, noting that, “We have porous borders between states, between cities.”
“We really don’t know when we’re gonna get this under control,” he added.
Lipkin said at the end of the interview that he is undergoing trial treatment for the virus and hoped to feel better soon.