A vaccine made from Tom Hanks's blood could save us from coronavirus
Tom Hanks became the celebrity face of coronavirus when he and his wife, Rita Wilson, were the first majorly famous people to test positive for coronavirus in early March. The couple hunkered down in Australia, where Hanks had been filming a forthcoming Baz Luhrmann Elvis biopic, to ride out the illness and self-quarantine till they were no longer contagious.
Happily, the Hankses made a full recovery, though Rita’s bout with COVID-19 sounded gnarlier than Tom’s. The couple flew home to Los Angeles late last month, and Hanks was even well enough to host the inaugural Saturday Night Live at Home from his kitchen on April 11.
The Hankses have been through the ringer and emerged from the other side already. But the coronavirus death toll in the US continues to soar. More than 55,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 — a quarter of the 200,000 fatalities worldwide. So in order to fight the disease, two of humanity’s most famous coronavirus patients are sharing their blood to help find a cure.
Tom was a recent guest on NPR’s news quiz podcast Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! and said as soon as he and Rita recovered from coronavirus, the first question on their minds was: how can we help? “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.
So the Hankses signed up to donate their blood to science, stat. “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,’” Tom added.
Wow, imagine if science succeeds in turning Tom Hanks’s bodily fluids into a lifesaving vaccine. Is there no role the man cannot play? Fred Rogers, check. Sheriff Woody, check. Forrest Gump, check. Humanity’s savior, check.
In all seriousness, the Hankses have been real champs throughout this health crisis. Amid so much fear and pandemonium, they’ve remained calm and stoic, even while grappling with the virus themselves. It’s a great example of famous faces leading by example, self-isolating and staying home, encouraging their fans to do the same and listen to scientists. It’s a shame that celebrities have to help with this lift, since the president is busy advising people to inject Lysol into their veins (you should never, ever inject cleaning chemicals into your body). But alas, here we are.
So thank you, Hankses, for donating your antibody-laden blood to the scientists who may actually, eventually be able to inoculate us against this thing. All I can say is it’d be an honor to maybe someday have a little bit of your DNA in my veins.