Rita Wilson says she had 'extreme side effects' from controversial drug chloroquine during COVID-19 treatment

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Suzy Byrne
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3 min read
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Rita Wilson is sharing new details about battling COVID-19, alongside her husband Tom Hanks, in her first TV interview since contracting the disease.

Speaking with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King, the 63-year-old actress and singer said she’s now feeling “great” more than a month after testing positive in early March. But at the time of her illness, she started feeling "very tired ... extremely achy, uncomfortable [and] didn't want to be touched.” As those symptoms persisted, she also developed a fever, which rose to 102, and “chills like I’ve never had before.” She also lost her sense of taste and smell, but didn’t realize it until later.

Wilson, who was treated in Australia, said on day nine she was given the controversial drug chloroquine. (Chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, both anti-malaria drugs, have been hyped by President Trump as miracle cures for COVID-19.)

“I know people have been talking about this drug, but I can only tell you that I don’t know if the drug worked or it was just time for the fever to break,” she said. “My fever did break, but the chloroquine had such extreme side effects. I was completely nauseous. I had vertigo. I could not walk and my muscles felt very weak.”

She added, “We have to be very considerate about this drug. We don't really know if it's safe in this case."

Wilson said Hanks had milder symptoms — his fever wasn’t as high, he did not lose his sense of taste or smell. “But it still took us the same time to get through it,” and the healthy couple returned home to L.A. in late March.

As for how they got it, doctors told the couple, who have pre-existing conditions (she is a breast cancer survivor and Hanks has type 2 diabetes), that they were “both exposed ... at the same time,” she said. However, “We don’t know when that could have been or where. All I can say is that all of our close contacts — family, people on our work team — no one has tested positive.” (The couple’s children spoke out after their parents’ diagnosis.)

Wilson said their doctors told them that now that they have had COVID-19, they are immune. However, she said, “that is what the belief is,” as so much is still unknown about it.

Wilson said she and Hanks have since donated their blood for a study about the disease, which will hopefully lead to a vaccine being developed. They’re also waiting to hear back if they can donate plasma to people currently fighting COVID-19.

Wilson also spoke about teaming up with Naughty by Nature for a remix of the group’s hit, "Hip Hop Hooray." She said she first learned the hip-hop song for the 2019 film Boy Genius and posted herself singing it on Instagram as a brain exercise to see if she could remember all the words. It went viral and she recorded the remix with the group. Each time the remix is streamed, money goes toward MusiCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.

Wilson said she and Hanks, whom she married in 1988, now both feel back to “normal” after the scare. And Hanks has been back to work as well. While the film he was working on in Australia in on pause, he hosted Saturday Night Live over the weekend — from his kitchen.

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