‘If it can hit me, it can hit anybody’: top virus expert contracts Covid-19
The leading authority on infectious diseases, and consultant to 2011 movie Contagion, says if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone. WHO reports 100,000 new cases have been recorded around the world in the past four days.
One of the world’s top infectious disease experts has tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, as global cases surged past 400,000 on Wednesday, after 100,000 were recorded in just the past four days.
Ian Lipkin, director of Columbia University’s Centre for Infection and Immunity, has been a key voice in the US providing information about the disease. Lipkin was also a consultant on the 2011 film Contagion, starring Gywneth Paltrow and Matt Damon, which told the tale of a mysterious killer virus.
Speaking to Fox Business News about the use of blood plasma from recovered patients to treat people with the infection, Lipkin described his experience as “miserable”.
“If it can hit me, it can hit anybody,” he said. “I know where I think I got it but that’s not the same as proving. But it doesn’t matter. This virus can be found all over the United States.”
Lipkin was a key player in the scientific studies into the West Nile virus and the Sars coronavirus. He went to China in January to discuss containment measures for Covid-19.
There are now nearly 400,000 coronavirus cases around the world, with 100,000 new infections added in just four days and surging numbers in the United States, Spain and Italy.
Two days of successive declines in Italy – the current global hotspot for Covid-19 – were reversed, with 743 more people killed. The illness has now taken 6,820 lives in the country, the highest number in the world.
Spain announced a record daily rise of 6,584 new infections, bringing its overall total to 39,673. The number of deaths also jumped by a record 514 to 2,696.
Up to 14 per cent of infections in Spain are medical professionals.
In addition to Lipkin, Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London who has been modelling infection trends, has tested positive.
Ben Cowling, professor of epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong’s school of public health, said that being an epidemiologist did not lower the risk of infection.
“Any of us could potentially be infected,” Cowling said.
“I think [the risk] is similar to others, depending on the location. A lot of people have been infected in London and New York.”