Elon Musk said late Thursday on Twitter that he received mixed results after being tested for COVID-19 and is currently experiencing symptoms of the common cold. Musk said he had tested four times using the rapid antigen test: two came back positive and two more negative. He is also waiting for the results of two PCR tests, but the results not be known for 24 hours.
An antigen test works by detecting tiny proteins on the surface of the coronavirus, whereas a more accurate PCR test looks for the virus itself. Antigen testing is quick because it doesn’t require a lab and is often done at hotspots such as colleges or elderly care facilities. “Positive results from antigen tests are highly accurate, but there is a higher chance of false negatives,” the FDA told us, (That’s why the PCR test ordered to confirm.) One antigen test from Quidel can detect the coronavirus 85 percent of the time. Musk said his antigen test came from BD.
Nevertheless, Elon Musk, who has long been skeptical of COVID-19, questioned the validity of the test with little conspiracy.
In addition to saying “something extremely bogus is going on,” Musk implies that his experience is likely shared by others and contributing to the current spike in cases seen in the US and abroad. He also responded “exactly” to a tweet saying “revenues from tests are likely not bogus.”
Elon Musk has been spreading doubt, confusion, and sometimes outright misinformation about the coronavirus. He’s accused doctors of inflating case numbers for financial reasons, promoted a widely discredited paper on the benefits of chloroquine, called shelter-in-place orders “fascist,” and dismissed panic associated with the pandemic as “dumb.” In March he predicted “close to zero new cases” by the end of April.
The US is currently seeing another spike in COVID-19 cases. Just a week after reporting 100,000 cases in a single day, public health officials reported a record 160,000 new cases on Thursday, November 12th, according to the New York Times. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in the US also set a record of 67,096 on the same day, according to the COVID Tracking Project, with deaths rising to more than 1,000 on average each day.
- The COVID-tracking app missed the mark
- Apple and Google announced a new app system to track COVID-19 exposures
- The first COVID-19 vaccine will likely require two shots
Elon Musk is CEO of SpaceX, which slated to launch its first official crew mission for NASA on Saturday. Back in May, Musk and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine met astronauts before they headed off into space on a historic test mission. With Musk’s claim for a positive test result, it’s unclear if that will happen this time.
“When somebody tests positive for COVID, here at the Kennedy Space Center and across NASA it is our policy for that person to quarantine and self isolate. So we anticipate that will be taking place.” Bridenstine told a press event today when asked about Musk’s tweet. “But it’s very early right now to know if any changes are necessary at this point,” Bridenstine added. “We just don’t know.”