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Ian Lipkin, Medical Consultant on ‘Contagion,’ Tests Positive for Coronavirus

“Contagion” medical consultant Ian Lipkin stressed that social distancing was the best tool in combating the virus’ spread.



Warner Bros. Pictures

Ian Lipkin, the university professor and epidemiologist who served as medical consultant on hit pandemic film “Contagion,” has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Lipkin revealed that he tested positive for the virus during a Tuesday interview on Fox Business. Lipkin said the symptoms were miserable and stressed that “if it can hit me, it can hit anybody.”

Though Lipkin said he had an idea of where he contracted the virus, he declined to name the location and stressed that it was irrelevant because the virus has already spread throughout the United States. While the interview was initially focused on potential cures for the coronavirus, such as blood plasma therapy, Lipkin noted that social distancing was still the most effective method of halting the virus’ spread, arguing that the “very best tool we have is isolation and confinement.”

“It’s extraordinarily important that we harmonize whatever restrictions we have across the country,” Lipkin said in the interview. “We have porous borders between states and cities and unless we’re consistent, we’re not gonna get ahead of this thing…What New York, Chicago and Washington have done has been very, very helpful and I would like to see that implemented broadly across the United States.”

Lipkin, who serves as the director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity, was a key player in the scientific studies of the West Nile virus and the SARS coronavirus (unrelated to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic) in the early 2000s. Lipkin traveled to China in January 2020 to investigate the current pandemic and self-quarantined for two weeks after returning stateside. After returning, Lipkin told New Yorker that the virus would likely exist for a lengthy duration and warned that it could become endemic, like measles.

Lipkin, long a star in academic circles, became well-known in Hollywood due to his work on “Contagion,” which is one of many pandemic-related films that have enjoyed large spikes in popularity in recent weeks. At the time, Columbia University noted that Lipkin, who had turned down all other film and television requests, decided to participate in the making of “Contagion” because the film “was an effort to accurately represent the science and to make a movie that would entertain as well as educate.”

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