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Tom Hanks’s blood might help save us all from coronavirus

Published Apr 27th, 2020 3:13PM EDT
Coronavirus vaccine
Image: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

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  • Researchers around the world are racing to develop a successful coronavirus vaccine to finally conquer the deadly pandemic that’s ravaged the globe for months now, killing tens of thousands of people.
  • One way that effort might be successful is through the use of antibodies from people like actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson, who’ve successfully beaten the COVID-19 virus and whose blood could be used to seed, in a way, the highly-sought-after vaccine.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were among the first celebrities to acknowledge receiving a positive diagnosis for the COVID-19 coronavirus, having contracted the virus in Australia where Hanks was shooting his role in director Baz Luhrmann’s new Elvis Presley biopic. The couple has since recovered, and now there’s at least an outside chance that they just might have at least a small role in saving us all from the disease that’s killed almost 55,000 Americans as of the time of this writing, according to the latest numbers from Johns Hopkins University.

That’s because, as part of their recovery, Hanks and his wife have both been found to carry antibodies to the coronavirus, and they’ve volunteered to let researchers who are racing to develop a vaccine for the virus use their blood in those efforts.

During a recent appearance on the NPR podcast Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!, Hanks, who said the disease took a particularly harsh toll on his wife, explained that he and his wife proactively asked researchers if their blood could be useful. “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.”

Along these same lines, Hanks used a tweet in recent days to also try to gin up support for a rapid response initiative led by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, in partnership with the David Geffen School of Medicine.

That study, more details of which are available here, will provide regular testing, antibody screening, and mental health support for 12,000 health care workers, including 4,000 at UCLA Health and 8,000 from other Los Angeles organizations, including the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

On a related note, because Hanks made an early recovery from the virus, he was tapped to provide the opening monologue for Saturday Night Live’s recent return to the airwaves, after the show had to suspend production for weeks because of the virus’ new realities like social distancing mandates. His was a touching, almost reassuring presence, including a note of thanks for healthcare workers and essential employees who are keeping the country going right now: “We are going to thank our hospital workers, our first responders and all the helpers, the supermarket stockers, the people who deliver our food, the people who are making takeout for us, the men and women who are keeping this country going at a time when we need them more than ever before.”

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming.

Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.