Hanks donates blood for virus vaccine
After being one of the first celebrities to be diagnosed with coronavirus, Tom Hanks has announced that his blood will be used to help find a vaccine.
Hanks, 63, and his wife Rita Wilson were two of the first celebrities struck down with the virus, and they were also the first to come out about their diagnosis and to recover.
Now, the Oscar-winning actor and his singer-actress wife revealed they have volunteered to give their blood and plasma to COVID-19 research, according to the New York Post's Page Six.
"We have not only been approached, we have said, 'Do you want our blood? Can we give plasma?' And, in fact, we will be giving it now to the places that hope to work on what I would like to call the Hank-ccine," Hanks said on NPR's podcast "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!"
The decision was made after Hanks and Wilson learned they had antibodies from their battle with the potentially deadly virus which has killed more than 200,000 people worldwide, and which they contacted in Australia last month.
"A lot of the questions [are] what do we do now? Is there something we can do? And, in fact, we just found out that we do carry the antibodies," Hanks said.
The actor said that the couple were mystified as to how they contracted coronavirus while in Queensland where Hanks was filming Baz Luhrmann's forthcoming Elvis Presley biopic.
Hanks and Wilson weren't the only people to be shocked and surprised.
Australia's Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann, who was directing the latest Elvis biopic was rocked by the diagnosis.
BAZ LURHMANN OPENS UP ABOUT DEADLY BUG
Baz Luhrmann vividly recalled the moment he learned Hanks had contracted the virus and how the film crew reacted to the discovery, according to CinemaBlend.
"So I'm getting ready to begin shooting on a Monday, and I'm rehearsing the scene where we've built the Vegas showroom, and Tom guides in Austin [Butler] as Elvis, and it's a scene where basically hundreds of girls are kissing Elvis, in a '70s show.
"Tom guides him through the crowd. All of a sudden I see my producer, Patrick McCormick on the set, and he had the same look in his eyes like he had a week earlier. And I thought, well this can't be good. You and the world knows what happened next.
"Tom and Rita handled it all so well, and we were so fortunate we had this direct connection with the head of infectious diseases, because it was an immediate shutdown. Without getting into the Australia-U. S. comparison, when it comes to the health system, they are so robust here. They were right on it."
Lurhmann went on to tell Deadline that as shocking as the situation was, Hanks' and Wilson's cases helped draw global attention to the seriousness of the pandemic: "(S) uddenly everyone went, this is real. He became an advertisement for it."
Hanks and Wilson became the role models for early self-quarantining.
So far, no other positive cases came from anyone in Lurhmann's cast or crew.
While production has been indefinitely suspended, the director is working closely with Australian officials to decide if and when it's safe to resume.
It comes as the world races to develop a vaccine and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday that his state, which has become the epicentre for the disease in the United States, began conducting antibody tests of nurses, doctors, police officers, grocery clerks and other essential workers while also allowing local pharmacies to collect samples for diagnostic tests.
The top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci agreed that testing was key to getting back to normal by identifying carriers, isolating them and tracing their contacts with others.
"Right now we're doing 1.5 million to 2 million (tests) per week. We probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks, and I think we will."
An available vaccine that works may be elusive for some time despite US President Donald Trump's assurances that it will be available "relatively soon."
White House spokesman Judd Deere said "any suggestion that the president does not value scientific data or the important work of scientists throughout his time in office is patently false."
Mr Deere pointed to "data-driven" decisions on the virus, such as limiting travel from highly infected areas, expediting vaccine development and issuing social distancing guidance to slow the spread of the virus.
Originally published as Hanks donates blood for virus vaccine