(LOS ANGELES) — Life has unfortunately imitated art for cast of the 2011 film Contagion, which has seen an uptick in streaming since the real-life COVID-19 coronavirus began spreading.
That’s why scientists from the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health tapped the stars of the film — Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Winslet — to dispense some real-life advice on how to fight the disease.
“In the movie, I played a guy who was immune to the hypothetical virus that was spreading around the world,” Damon says. “That was a movie. This is real life.”
“I have no reason to believe I’m immune to COVID-19 and neither do you, no matter how young you are,” he adds. “This is a new virus. It’s gonna take some time for our bodies and our doctors to understand it and understand new ways to protect us.”
Damon was joined by fellow Oscar-winner Kate Winslet, who played an epidemiologist in the film.
“To prepare for the role, I spent time with some of the best public health professionals in the world,” she says. “And what was one of the most important things they taught me? Wash your hands like your life depends on it because right now, in particular, it just might.”
Touting the importance of social distancing, Damon also said, “We can all do this together just by staying apart. Please do your part.”
Similarly, Fishburne talked about the danger of the traditional handshake, noting it was based on showing someone you weren’t carrying a weapon.
“Now we may be carrying one, and not even know it,” he intoned.
Dr. Ian Lipkin, the director of Columbia University’s Center for Infection and Immunity — who was a consultant on the film — revealed this week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
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