Chief Scientific Consultant On ‘Contagion’ Has COVID-19: ‘It Can Hit Anybody’

The chief scientific consultant on the 2011 film about a fictional pandemic, “Contagion,” has tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, the director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, talked to Fox Business on Tuesday about what researchers have gleaned from recovered coronavirus patients in an effort to treat those now suffering from the disease. In the interview, Lipkin revealed he had been diagnosed with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“I would just like to say on this show tonight that this has become very personal for me, too, because I have COVID as of yesterday. And this is miserable. [If] it can hit me, it can hit anybody,” he said.

The professor has more than 30 years of experience in diagnostics, microbial discovery and outbreak response. According to his biography on Columbia’s website, he helped identify “West Nile virus as the cause of the encephalitis epidemic in New York in 1999” and has “discovered or characterized more than 500 infectious agents including Borna disease virus, West Nile virus, LuJo virus and human rhinovirus C.”

Lipkin coached the actors in “Contagion” on “the practices and process of scientific research.” 

“Contagion” has taken on a new life amid the current pandemic and has been widely streamed by those in isolation and/or quarantine.

The film’s characters include a research scientist played by Elliot Gould named Ian, based on Lipkin. “I told Elliott it’s important that you get this right, because you are playing me,” Lipkin said in a press release Columbia University issued in 2011 about his involvement with the film

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