After testing positive for COVID-19 in March, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson kept the world posted on their journey, becoming symbols of hope when they announced they had recovered in April. The couple’s coronavirus success story has not yet ended. As befits his brand of “nicest guy in Hollywood,” Hanks revealed that he and his wife are now donating blood to aid research on a potential coronavirus treatment.
In an interview for the NPR show “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” host Peter Sagal asked Hanks, 63, about life post-coronavirus.
“Well, a lot of the question is, ‘What now?’ You know?” Hanks said. “What do we do now? Is there something we can do? And, in fact, we just found out that we do carry the antibodies.”
Guest host Peter Grosz asked Hanks, “Can we harvest your blood?”
“Yes,” Hanks replied. “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,” the actor joked.
“There could be no better ending to this international catastrophe than if the cure turns out to be the blood of Tom Hanks,” Sagal said.
Using plasma from coronavirus survivors is still experimental, but researchers hope this type of therapy proves to be effective. The idea is to give sick patients antibody-rich blood plasma from recovered patients to help them fight off the virus.
The method was used during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic and during the 2003 SARS outbreak, Dr. Arturo Casadevall, the chair of the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department at Johns Hopkins, told “CBS This Morning.”
Casadevall said more research needs to be done, but plasma therapy shows promise and history is on its side. One plasma donation can potentially treat up to three infected patients.
Though it’s not exactly a “Hank-ccine,” Hanks’ donation could help patients who currently have few other treatment options.
Meanwhile, the global race to find an actual vaccine for COVID-19 continues. Human trials of a vaccine developed at the University of Oxford in the U.K. began Thursday, joining several others in the testing process. However, most experts still think that will take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to be ready for the public.