Elon Musk won’t get a vaccine for COVID-19 and neither will his kids because they’re “not at risk for COVID,” he told the New York Times’ Kara Swisher on Sept. 28.
The comments are consistent with Musk’s treatment of the pandemic since it began. In early March, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO fueled virus skepticism when he tweeted, “the coronavirus panic is dumb.” Two weeks later, he followed with a tweet saying there’d be close to zero new U.S. coronavirus cases by the end of April. In June, two Tesla workers were fired after they stayed at home due to concerns about the safety of working conditions at a Tesla plant in Fremont, California.
The South African billionaire’s public dismissal of the coronavirus continued into the summer. In a July interview with the New York Times, he suggested that the virus only affects the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.
Monday’s interview with Swisher took on a similar tone. Musk said society-wide lockdowns were misguided and only at-risk people should quarantine. Overall, the general response to the pandemic seemed to irk Musk. “It has diminished my faith in humanity, this whole thing,” he continued.
While Musk sets himself apart from the general population by suggesting he and his family are immune to a pandemic that has killed more than 1 million people worldwide, he is not alone in his hesitancy toward a vaccine.
A recent national study conducted by the Pew Research Center from Sept. 8-13 found that 51% of 10,093 adults surveyed would “definitely or probably” get a COVID-19 vaccine if it were available today, compared to 72% in May. Their reasoning is not because they feel immune to the virus, as Musk seems to believe, but rather because concerns remain about the safety of a rushed vaccine. About 77% were worried about a vaccine being approved before its safety and effectiveness could be determined, while 76% cited unknown side effects as a hindrance toward getting vaccinated.
Musk, on the other hand, found justification for his remarks in the pandemic success of his companies. “We’ve been making cars this entire time and it’s been great,” he said of Tesla. Of SpaceX he said, “Through this entire thing, we didn’t skip a day. We had national security clearance because we were doing national security work. We sent astronauts to the space station and back.”
Musk, who also recently called Bill Gates a “knucklehead,” returned to his belief that coronavirus precautions should only apply to the elderly and at-risk communities. When Swisher criticized his suggestion that this type of targeted lockdown would only result in more deaths, Musk fired back.
“Everybody dies,” he said.