'Contagion' medical consultant tests positive for coronavirus

Dr. Ian Lipkin, the medical consultant for the record-breaking 2011 pandemic thriller Contagion, has tested positive for the new coronavirus.

The renowned professor announced the news on Tuesday during a live television interview with Fox Business‘s Lou Dobbs. The revelation came after Lipkin detailed some of the experiments he and his team at Columbia University had been working on to treat COVID-19.

“This has become very personal for me, too,” said Lipkin, 68, via the digital video call. “I have COVID, as of yesterday , and it is miserable. If it can hit me, it can hit anybody.”

Lipkin has served as the director of Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University for years.

Nearly a decade ago, he was enlisted by director Steven Soderbergh to ensure the scientific accuracy of Contagion, which deals with the outbreak of a deadly virus and the toll it takes on the world.


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Interest in the Matt Damon-starring film was reignited earlier this year as the panic and threat surrounding COVID-19 was similar to that in the fictional plot.

During an interview with comingsoon.net in 2011, Soderbergh commended Lipkin for his work both on the film and in his lab, calling him “brilliant.”

In regard to the current global pandemic, Lipkin told Dobbs that “we really don’t know when we’re going to get this under control.”

He also stressed the importance of self-isolation and social distancing.

“It’s extraordinarily important that we harmonize whatever restrictions we have across the country… Unless we’re consistent, we’re not going to get ahead of this thing,” he said. “The very best tool we have is isolation and confinement.”

In 2012,  Lipkin was featured in an episode of Global’s Virus Hunters, where a team of scientists explored some of the world’s most deadly viruses.


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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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