PETALING JAYA, March 30 — The cast of the 2011 Hollywood film Contagion has reunited to put out public service announcements (PSA) on fighting pandemics in light of the Covid-19 crisis.
Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Laurence Fishburne, and Jennifer Ehle joined hands with the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health to speak about various topics concerning the novel coronavirus, including social distancing, hand-washing, and a possible vaccine.
Damon, who played a young father in Contagion with immunity against a deadly virus, said everyone had a responsibility to take precautions against Covid-19.
“In the movie, I played a guy who was immune to the hypothetical virus that was spreading around the world.
“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,” said Damon.
Noting that the messages from him and his fellow co-stars had been vetted by public health experts and scientists, Damon went on to explain the importance of social distancing in slowing down the spread of the virus.
“Social distancing. It means staying six feet away from another person. It means not gathering in groups.
“It means staying home or sheltering in place if that’s what government officials are telling you to do.”
You’ve seen it everywhere, but there’s a reason. Contagion star Matt Damon explains why #SocialDistancing is the most critical thing you can do right now. Then head to https://t.co/sUXphD602y to find out more. #ControlTheContagion #publichealth #ColumbiaSPH pic.twitter.com/3pHHbdfuOc— ColumbiaPublicHealth (@ColumbiaMSPH) March 27, 2020
In Winslet’s PSA on hand-washing, the actress shared the lessons she learned from public health professionals while gearing up for her role as an epidemiologist in Contagion.
She explained how soap and water work to remove the virus during hand-washing, as well as the importance of not touching one’s face.
“The health of our society is quite literally in your hands. I know this is hard and this is new, and it’s scary.
“But you really can defend yourself and the people you love with a bar of soap, a sink, and some water,” said Winslet.
Wash your hands like your life depends on it. Because it does. Contagion star Kate Winslet explains how something as simple as using soap and water for 20 seconds can help #ControlTheContagion. Head to https://t.co/sUXphCOoDY for more info. #publichealth #ColumbiaSPH pic.twitter.com/7u9SeJjA6n— ColumbiaPublicHealth (@ColumbiaMSPH) March 27, 2020
Meanwhile, Fishburne used a scene from the film about handshaking to illustrate the need to limit physical contact with other people for the time being, while emphasising the need for people to stay at home if they can and practice social distancing.
The virus in Contagion was fictional, but #COVID19 is real. Contagion star Laurence Fishburne explains what he learned from his role in the movie, and why #socialdistancing is the most critical thing we can do to #ControlTheContagion. Head to https://t.co/sUXphD602y for more. pic.twitter.com/5S0OCnm0x0— ColumbiaPublicHealth (@ColumbiaMSPH) March 27, 2020
Ehle, who played a researcher who discovered a vaccine for the virus in Contagion, broke down how long it could take before a Covid-19 vaccine is ready for the public.
She also warned against the spread of misinformation during a pandemic, adding that “paranoia is a kind of virus as well.”
“It requires fear and transmission to spread, and we don’t need scientists to cure that. Just compassion and common sense.”
Vaccines take time, but they are what is going to solve #COVID19. Hear from Contagion star Jennifer Ehle on how we can help our health professionals and scientists #ControlTheContagion. Then head to https://t.co/sUXphD602y for more. #publichealth #ColumbiaSPH pic.twitter.com/jTBggD22pH— ColumbiaPublicHealth (@ColumbiaMSPH) March 27, 2020