- Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in a new interview that he and his family weren’t planning to get a COVID-19 vaccine when one became available.
- He told the journalist Kara Swisher in an episode of the new podcast “Sway” that he believed he and his kids weren’t at risk of contracting the coronavirus.
- Musk has repeatedly downplayed the severity of the coronavirus and has repeated falsehoods about COVID-19; there is no evidence that he or his family are any less susceptible to the highly contagious virus that has killed more than 200,000 Americans of all ages.
Elon Musk says he and his family won’t get a coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available.
Musk discussed his feelings about the virus on an episode of “Sway,” a new podcast by the New York Times opinion section hosted by the journalist Kara Swisher. During their conversation for an episode published Monday, Swisher asked the Tesla CEO whether he or his family would get a COVID-19 vaccine once one became available, to which Musk said he wouldn’t because he was “not at risk for COVID, nor are my kids.”
There is no evidence Musk or his family are any less susceptible to the highly contagious virus that has killed more than 200,000 Americans of all ages.
Swisher also brought up his response to the lockdowns imposed earlier this year to mitigate the virus’ spread. Musk has said that he opposed the lockdowns and that they did not “serve the greater good.”
“Essentially, the right thing to do would be to not have done a lockdown for the whole country but to have, I think, anyone who’s at risk should be quarantined until the storm passes,” said Musk, who predicted in March that there would be “close to zero new cases” by the end of April.
Musk has made similar statements in the past, including in a July interview with The New York Times. He has falsely downplayed the risks for children and young people when it comes to COVID-19, despite evidence of young people becoming seriously ill and even dying from the disease (though they are not among the groups considered most vulnerable). Musk has also ignored data showing that a significant portion of those infected with the virus never show symptoms.
Still, Musk’s apprehension about getting a coronavirus vaccine mirrors the sentiment of large numbers of Americans. A recent Ipsos MORI poll found that 33% of US respondents said they wouldn’t get a vaccine as soon as one became available, citing concerns about side effects, though 20% of those respondents said they were opposed to vaccines in general.
Dozens of coronavirus vaccines are in the works, including 32 that are already in human testing. But policymakers are now trying to determine how to prioritize who should receive a vaccine first when one does become available. Moncef Slaoui, the chief advisor of Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration’s initiative to accelerate the creation of a coronavirus vaccine — recently told Business Insider’s Andrew Dunn that a vaccine most likely wouldn’t be widely available to Americans until April, May, or June of 2021.
Musk has been uniquely outspoken about the coronavirus outbreak since the outset, initially calling it “dumb” and a “panic,” promoting the untested malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the virus, and questioning data around coronavirus deaths. In March, Musk said he was also vehemently opposed to California’s stay-at-home orders, describing the lockdowns as “forcible imprisoning” and “fascist.”
When Alameda County in California, where one of Tesla’s factories is based, refused to allow the company to resume production, Musk restarted production and said he was willing to be arrested. (Tesla was eventually allowed to restart its operations.) During his conversation with Swisher, he called the county “overzealous” and said its response was “a travesty.”
Lockdowns have been proved to save lives and slow the spread of the virus. Research has indicated that coronavirus lockdowns in the US helped prevent as many as 60 million infections from March 3 to April 6. A study in Health Affairs published in July estimated that US stay-at-home orders may have prevented 250,000 to 370,000 deaths from March to May.