For once, it was nice to have a movie star on hand in a national emergency.

The U.S. is grappling with misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic. Matthew McConaughey, Austin’s favorite Oscar winner, apparently has had enough of it, and on Thursday, he hosted a congenial Instagram Live Q&A with the man who best knows disease fact from viral fiction: Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and White House coronavirus expert joined McConaughey for the actor’s first time hosting a livestream on the social media platform.

“Oh look at that, it worked!” McConaughey said cheerfully. He appeared for a minute to try to figure out how to welcome Fauci into the chat.

It could have felt like an amateur fisherman casting his line into deep waters, but McConaughey brought warmth to a happy hour celebration of science, certainty and teamwork. The origin of the unlikely pairing was not revealed during the conversation, which clocked in at just over 40 minutes. But the University of Texas alum pledged to keep things apolitical — he just sought a “more defined road map” from Fauci.

Comments, it should be noted, were turned off during the broadcast. Tough luck to the viewers, who numbered more than 11,000 at the livestream’s peak.

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McConaughey kicked things off with a lightning round “Mythbusters” session. The silver-tongued son of Uvalde and the one-man brain trust from Brooklyn matched each other in fast-and-furious energy.

McConaughey: How is the virus transmitted — mostly through the air, or on surfaces, too?

Fauci: Predominantly person to person through the air. The virus can live on surfaces for up to 72 hours; it’s possible but far less likely you’ll get it from that doorknob.

McConaughey: Why not enact a nationwide mask mandate with fines enforced as a penalty?

Fauci: “Absolutely we should have universal wearing of masks,” but mandates make people want to push back, and good modeling from leaders is more effective.

The rumor mill got a talking to. People with type A blood are more likely to get COVID-19 than those with type O, Fauci said, but the difference is too small to worry about. And nah, Advil doesn’t make the disease worse: “It’s a bad enough virus to begin with,” Fauci said. Are budesonide or zinc remedies for the disease, as some claim? That’s a no from the doctor: “Many more things that work in the test tube but don’t work in the body,” he said, but there might be a placebo effect at play in some cases.

McConaughey asked if people can get the virus again if they already have antibodies. Fauci said that if you have neutralizing antibodies, they’ll block infection, but experts don’t know how long that protection lasts. You can have antibodies that do jack squat. Clinical trials have shown vaccines under development provide that protection, but again, scientists don’t yet know for how long.

McConaughey: Do we know the long-term effects?

Fauci: Officials are seeing “more and more people” who recover from the virus and then weeks later feel tired, weak, sluggish and short of breath. “We think that’s probably an immunological effect,” he said. “It’s very disturbing.”

McConaughey: Beaches and bars — do we put others at risk if we go?

Fauci: Yes, especially for the immunocompromised.

McConaughey: Can you spread it asymptomatically?

Fauci: Yep.

McConaughey: Does sunlight kill the virus?

Fauci: Sure does, and outside’s always better than inside. Restaurants looking at seating options, that means you.

Kids seem to show signs of illness less often, McConaughey pointed out, to which Fauci said it’s conceivable that youngsters might carry more recent immunity from other coronaviruses that cause colds. They might not get sick, but they could still be infected. And no, the coronavirus won’t go away if everyone in the world gets it, Fauci said.

“This is the big misperception that causes so much difficulty in messaging to younger people,” he said, pointing out America’s own high rates of obesity, hypertension and diabetes, complicating health factors all. “If everyone got infected, the death toll would be enormous and unacceptable.”

McConaughey: Why did Asia and the rest of the world slow down their spread so much, but not America?

Fauci: When those countries shut down, they achieved a very low baseline of cases. The U.S. shut down, but never to the same level. “We plateaued at 20,000 cases a day,” he said, calling it “completely unacceptable.” Economic reopenings drove the numbers up further.

McConaughey: Vaccine?

Fauci: Likely at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, with a moderate number available at first. As we get further into 2021, there “should be enough for everybody.”

A vaccine would mean immunity, but it won’t be perfect, Fauci cautioned. If an effective rate of 50-70% can be achieved, then that can be combined with public health measures. “I’ll be very pleased,” said Fauci with a smile.

McConaughey: Do you have money invested in a vaccine?

Fauci: “Zero!” he said. “I am a government worker, and I have a government salary.”

The interviewer saved his big questions for the end. Is it fair to say that the U.S. messed up its initial reaction to the pandemic? Fauci was diplomatic, saying you can always do something better. He singled out missteps on testing; the country did some things well, he said, but didn’t elaborate much on what those might be.

“We need to pull together in a uniform way,” Fauci said. He continued, “If you have one weak link in the chain, you don’t win the game. ... We need to win as a nation.”

Fauci said he knows Americans are an individualistic bunch — “We don’t like authority much” — but stressed to McConaughey that “public health should be a mechanism to reopening the country; some people think it’s an obstacle.”

To that, McConaughey said he’s been “full of rage” at how pandemic safety measures have been politicized, without a clear sense of coalition. Fauci agreed: “The quicker you pull together ... the quicker you’re back to normal.”

“More freedom coming up sooner!” McConaughey said.

McConaughey asked about a seeming lack of leadership or a unifying voice during the pandemic — one imagines it’s a touchy subject for Fauci, who’s been met with hostility at times from his boss in the Oval Office. The doctor ducked that one, mostly. He pointed out that “science is self-correcting” and said that the average person does not understand that guidance evolves as new data become available.

“This enemy wants us in hand-to-hand combat,” McConaughey joined in — it’s a different kind of offense than we’re used to playing. Fauci cheerfully said he likes the way his host framed it and might steal it himself.

That led naturally into sports. McConaughey asked: How does the “playing of sport” have its own individual risk? Are some sports safer than others? He pointed to UT athletes undergoing regular testing as one measure being taken as some collegiate teams gear up for their seasons.

Sports bring the fundamental problem of gathering people together, Fauci said, which can cause super-spreader events. It will depend, he said. Small-town sports in areas relatively less affected by the pandemic might be able to pull it off, but “red hot zones” would probably see more infections.

“How quick they deal with it will determine how they can do the season,” Fauci said.

There are bad choices to make all around, McConaughey said toward the end of the chat. But both he and Fauci dished out the basics in parting.

“Wear the damn mask!” McConaughey said. “Wear it as a badge of honor.”

Practice social distancing of at least 6 feet, Fauci said, and “for goodness sakes, stay away from crowds.”

The coronavirus czar gets it. He would rather go get a beer and a hamburger with his wife at a bar after work, too. But that’s not gonna cut it.

“You wanna open the bars, or you wanna open the schools?” he said.