Billionaire Elon Musk drew outrage Friday by arguing — without citing evidence — there’s “some debate” over the safety of Covid-19 vaccines, the latest in a string of questionable comments and false prognostications by the outspoken car mogul since the coronavirus pandemic began.
March 6, 2020As worldwide Covid-19 cases topped 100,000 and deaths exceeded 3,000, Musk tweeted, “the coronavirus panic is dumb.”
March 19, 2020The United States reported just under 2,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day, but Musk predicted the country was headed toward “zero new cases” by the end of April (by Musk’s deadline, daily case counts had topped 20,000).
March 19, 2020Musk insisted “kids are essentially immune” to the coronavirus, despite research that children can contract the virus and get sick from it.
May 9, 2020After local rules in Alameda County, Calif., forced Tesla to shut down its assembly line, Musk vowed to sue the county (Tesla filed a federal lawsuit that day, but the company voluntarily dropped the suit less than two weeks later).
May 11, 2020Musk said Tesla’s assembly line in the Bay Area would reopen immediately, violating local public health rules and surprising California Gov. Gavin Newsom: “If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me,” Musk tweeted.
Sept. 28, 2020Musk told the New York Times’ Kara Swisher he won’t take a Covid-19 vaccine once it’s available, arguing he and his kids are not at risk, and he asserted the virus (which has killed more than 2.6 million people worldwide) has a low mortality rate.
March 12, 2021Musk appeared to question whether it’s safe to get the second shot of a coronavirus vaccine, citing “quite a few negative reactions.”
Musk and Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.
“Actually, Elon, the 2nd jabs are *remarkably* safe,” Dr. Eric Topol, a professor at Scripps Research, tweeted Friday. While some patients have reported short-term side effects like fatigue after getting the second shot of Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccine, more severe reactions are extremely rare. In the first month of U.S. vaccinations, about 4.5 out of every million patients reported anaphylaxis, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.
Musk, who Forbes consistently ranks among the richest people in the world, and members of his family may have contracted the coronavirus themselves. In November, he announced on Twitter he was experiencing cold-like symptoms and “most likely” had a moderate case of Covid-19, one day after claiming he’d taken multiple tests and received conflicting results. Two months later, his girlfriend, the musician Grimes, said she “finally got Covid” and was “weirdly enjoying” her cold medicine.
After Tesla reopened its California factory, hundreds of plant employees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a document released Friday by transparency group PlainSight. Tesla is not alone: Other U.S. carmakers also reopened their assembly lines in May and reported virus infections shortly afterwards.
Last March, Musk vowed to donate thousands of ventilators to overwhelmed hospitals, a move California Gov. Gavin Newsom called “heroic.” But after Tesla’s donations arrived, some hospitals told Bloomberg and CNN they had received breathing machines often used for sleep apnea, not ventilators. Hospital administrators said these machines are still useful.
Elon Musk — Real Time Net Worth (Forbes)
Hundreds of covid cases reported at Tesla plant following Musk’s defiant reopening, county data shows (Washington Post)