An Update on Ian Lipkin

March 25, 2020

Since the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 was first identified in China in late December 2019, its spread has become a global pandemic. Currently, there are more than 400,000 global cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, and in New York City alone there are nearly 25,000 cases, with global and local numbers growing daily.

On March 24, Ian Lipkin, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, announced that he has tested positive for coronavirus. Like so many New Yorkers, he acquired the virus through community transmission. He has had mild symptoms thus far, and he is currently in quarantine at home. In accordance with standard protocols, any individuals who have come into close contact with him have been notified. His infection is not related to any research being conducted in his laboratory.

Since the start of the outbreak, Lipkin has been working with the CII team to contribute to our understanding of and response to COVID-19. They have developed a rapid and reliable COVID-19 diagnostic test that is highly sensitive and able to identify infection even in those individuals who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, who constitute the majority of those with COVID-19.

A statement from Ian Lipkin:

“For many years, fighting the spread of infectious diseases has been a professional and humanitarian mission for me. Now that it has become personal, I deeply appreciate everyone’s well wishes, particularly from my colleagues in China with whom I have worked for many years. I’m confident I’ll be back in the lab with my colleagues soon.

“Scientists all over the world are hard at work on solutions and I’m proud to be a part of that community. Please continue to take all recommended public health precautions to protect yourself—social distancing, hand-washing, and staying up-to-date on accurate information. This virus can be beaten, but no single organization, city, or country can do it alone—it will take everyone’s collaboration, resolve, and resilience as we do our parts.”