"It can hit me, it can hit anybody," he said, urging people to social distance to contain the spread of coronavirus.

By Rachel Yang
March 25, 2020 at 12:45 AM EDT
Everett Collection

Ian Lipkin, a researcher who served as a medical consultant on the 2011 film Contagionannounced Tuesday that he tested positive for COVID-19.

While discussing the virus in an interview on Fox Business, he said, "I would just like to say on this show tonight that this has become very personal for me too, because I have COVID as of yesterday. And this is miserable. [If] it can hit me, it can hit anybody," he said.

Lipkin is the director of Columbia University's Center for Infection and Immunity, as well as a professor of epidemiology, neurology, and pathology at the school. He was instrumental in identifying the West Nile virus as the cause of the encephalitis epidemic in New York in 1999 and he also assisted the World Health Organization in China during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

Lipkin was the chief scientific consult for Steven Soderbergh's Contagion, which focused on the spread of a global virus and how researchers and officials try to halt it. Starring Kate Winslet, Marion Cotillard, and Matt Damon, the film was noted for its scientific accuracy. In the movie, Elliott Gould played a research scientist named Ian, who was based on Lipkin.

Contagion has garnered renewed interest and viewership since the spread of the coronavirus, and it was the second-most popular movie on iTunes in the United States earlier this month.

In January, Lipkin went to China to investigate coronavirus and self-quarantined for two weeks after returning home. However, he told Fox Business that while he had an inkling of where he contracted coronavirus, "it doesn't matter" where he got it as the disease has spread all over the United States.

Lipkin also emphasized the importance of social distancing, saying that the “very best tool we have is isolation and confinement.”

“It’s extraordinarily important that we harmonize whatever restrictions we have across the country,” Lipkin said in the interview. “We have porous borders between states and cities and unless we’re consistent, we’re not going to get ahead of this thing."

According to his faculty page, Lipkin is also working on a new series for AMC.

EW recently spoke to experts about pandemic films like Contagion and 28 Days Later to find out what's fact and fiction in the movies, and if there's anything from them that audiences can apply to COVID-19.

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