92nd Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals
92nd Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Tom Hanks’ Aussie COVID-19 drug nightmare

Hollywood star Tom Hanks and actress wife Rita Wilson suffered "extreme side effects" when they were treated with a controversial drug in Australia after contracting COVID-19.

In an interview on American television, Wilson said she was given chloroquine after she and Hanks tested positive for the virus while in Australia last month to shoot a movie with Baz Luhrmann about Elvis Presley.

Chloroquine is a malaria treatment.

While Wilson did not deny the drug may have played a part in the couple's recovery, she said the side effects were "extreme".


Tom Hanks. Picture: AP
Tom Hanks. Picture: AP

After getting the chloroquine, Wilson became "completely nauseous" and experienced vertigo and weakened muscles, she said.

"We have to be very considerate about this drug," she said on CBS. "We don't know if it's safe in this case."

Wilson and Hanks were among the first Hollywood big names to reveal they'd caught the deadly virus. They have since recovered and returned to the US - although Aussie director Luhrmann says the "Elvis project" is still on.

In a tweet Luhrmann said: "I'm sure it will come as no surprise that this is not the moment to be resuming production on the film. Please know that this is in now way a reflection our commitment to making the movie here in Queensland. In fact we are not even taking our sets down, simply locking up the creative space over the next few days."

Baz Luhrmann. Picture: Christian Gilles
Baz Luhrmann. Picture: Christian Gilles

"I have spoken to the premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, and we all agree that right now, this is the time for people all over the world, from all walks of life, to be at home indoors, with their loved ones (washing our hands five time a day). All going well we have a passionate conviction to be back here on the Gold Coast, picking up where we left off as soon as the time is right. Baz."

Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. Picture: Supplied|
Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump. Picture: Supplied|

Hanks, 63, appeared on a remote version of Saturday Night Live from his home this month.

Wilson's other coronavirus symptoms included being "very tired, extremely achy, uncomfortable, didn't want to be touched."

She says she also suffered from the loss of her senses of taste and smell, getting the chills and a 39C fever. Hanks did not experience the loss of taste and smell or the high fever, she said.

Since recovering, both have donated blood to a study in hope that their antibodies can be used to develop a vaccine.

Despite thousands of seriously ill coronavirus patients being treated with a newer version of chloroquine called hydroxychloroquine, the drug still has plenty of testing to undergo before it can be officially declared safe and an appropriate drug to combat COVID-19.

Some medics say it is the most effective coronavirus treatment, but for some patients the side effects could be lethal. In Brazil, one study found the participants experienced potentially fatal heart complications.

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