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Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson will donate their blood for coronavirus vaccine research

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson attend the Screen

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 19, 2020, in Los Angeles.  Credit: Getty Images / Leon Bennett

Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks and his singer-actress wife Rita Wilson, who have recovered from a bout with COVID-19 last month, will be supplying their blood to scientists trying to develop a vaccine.

Appearing on the NPR topical-news comedy quiz "Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!," Hanks, 63, told host Peter Sagal, "A lot of the question is, What now, y'know? What do we do now? Is there something we can do? And, in fact, we just found out that we do carry the antibodies," those proteins produced by the human body's immune system in response to disease.

"We have not only been approached," Hanks said of scientists researching a cure, but also "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," he joked, "the 'Hank-ccine.' "

Responded Sagal, 55, "There could be no better ending to this international catastrophe than if the cure turns out to be the blood of Tom Hanks." Quipped guest Peter Grosz, a comedian best known as a star of Sonic drive-in restaurant commercials, "You thought he was Jimmy Stewart, but he's also Jonas Salk." (Salk, a New York physician and medical researcher, developed one of the first successful vaccines for paralytic poliomyelitis — known as polio — in the mid-1950s.)

Hanks and Wilson had self-isolated in Australia, where both had traveled for work, and Australia's Nine News reported that the film star had brightened the life of an 8-year-old boy there, Corona DeVries, who had found himself being bullied because of his name evoking the term "coronavirus."

The news organization said that after the child had written the couple wishing them a quick recovery, Hanks, a collector of vintage typewriters, sent the child the antique Corona-brand machine that the star had taken with him into the isolation ward at Gold Coast University Hospital.

"It's awesome," DeVries, of Helensvale, Queensland, told Nine News, "because it's so old it must have belonged to someone before they gave it to Tom Hanks."

In an accompanying letter, Hanks wrote, "Dear Corona, thank you for being such a good friend — friends make friends feel good when they are down. Even though I was no longer sick, getting your letter made me feel even better." The star also urged DeVries to write him back, and enclosed stationery and self-addressed envelopes.

In a postscript reflecting the title of the theme song to "Toy Story" (1995), the first of four animated Disney Pixar films featuring Hanks as Sheriff Woody, he wrote, "You['ve] got a friend in ME!" 

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