Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson to donate blood for COVID-19 vaccine

Actor Tom Hanks, left, flanked by his wife Rita Wilson, arrives to receive a lifetime achievement at the Rome Film Festival, in Rome.
Actor Tom Hanks, left, flanked by his wife Rita Wilson, arrives to receive a lifetime achievement at the Rome Film Festival, in Rome. AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson are donating their blood to help medical researchers develop a vaccine to fight the coronavirus after recovering from COVID-19.

Hanks announced in early March that he and his wife had tested positive for the virus. They recuperated while in Australia and returned to Los Angeles after making a full recovery.

The Cast Away actor spoke on the NPR Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! podcast about their participation, saying: “We just found out that we do carry the antibodies.

“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.

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Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for COVID-19'
Coronavirus outbreak: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson test positive for COVID-19

Wilson previously said doctors have told her she could be “immune” to the novel coronavirus now that she’s had it.

“Well, that’s what they told us and that’s what the belief is,” she said of possible immunity. “We recently have been part of a study where we’ve donated our blood, and we’re waiting to hear back if our antibodies will be helpful in developing a vaccine, but also if we are able to donate plasma that can be used as donation to other people who are suffering from the virus because we are immune.”

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Last Thursday, Hanks spoke with The National Defense radio show about his and his wife’s experiences with COVID-19, sharing that it affected them both in different ways.

“Rita went through a tougher time than I did,” he said. “She had a much higher fever. She had lost her sense of taste and sense of smell. She got absolutely no joy from food for a better part of three weeks.”

Hanks said he “had some bad body aches and was very fatigued, and that’s how the COVID-19 went through us.”

He said that Wilson’s condition and the side effects she experienced from chloroquine, a drug that has been used since the 1940s to prevent and treat malaria as well as to treat rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, led to his wife being “so nauseous.” The drug is currently being used as a treatment for COVID-19, however its effectiveness has not yet been proven.

“She was so nauseous she had to crawl on the floor from the bed to the facilities, and it lasted a while,” Hanks said.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.


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