‘Contagion’ medical adviser Dr. Ian Lipkin has coronavirus: ‘If it can hit me, it can hit anyone’

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The esteemed medical adviser behind the pandemic movie “Contagion,” Dr. Ian Lipkin, has revealed he has contracted the coronavirus.

Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University, who advised director Steven Soderbergh on the realistic 2011 movie, revealed his condition after discussing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Fox’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” on Tuesday.

A few minutes after giving a dry cough during the remote segment, Lipkin said, “I would like to say on this show tonight, this has become very personal to me, too. Because I have COVID as of yesterday. It’s miserable.”

“If it can hit me, it can hit anybody. That’s the message I want to convey,” he added.

Coronavirus lessons: Everything Hollywood and ‘Contagion’ taught us about pandemics

Lipkin declined to specify how or from whom he might have acquired the disease. “It doesn’t matter. This virus is all over the united States,” he said.

Lipkin continued to push themes in the coronavirus battle during the segment, including red-flagging President Donald Trump’s declaration about the country relaxing its stay-at-home policy by Easter weekend, April 11.

“We really don’t know when we’re going to get this under control,” said Lipkin, who called for harmonizing restrictions across the country. “We have porous borders between states and cities, and unless we’re consistent, we’re not gonna get ahead of this thing.”

Anna Jacoby-Heron and Matt Damon in a scene from "Contagion"

“The best tool we have is isolation and confinement,” said Lipkin.

USA TODAY has reached out to Lipkin for further comment.

The widely respected Lipkin was persuaded to work with screenwriter Scott Z. Burns and Soderbergh on “Contagion” since “this was an effort to accurately represent the science and to make a movie that would entertain as well as educate,” he told Columbia University’s newsletter in 2011.

Some “Contagion” scenes reflect Lipkin’s own experiences in Beijing when he assisted the World Health Organization and the Chinese Health Ministry during the 2003 SARS outbreak in 2003. He became ill and was quarantined when he returned to the U.S.

Advising throughout production, Lipkin shared his experience with Matt Damon, offering the actor insight into what it feels like to be behind glass and cut off from loved ones.


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