Elon Musk wears a lot of hats. He’s a billionaire business magnate, industrial designer and engineer as the founder of SpaceX and the CEO and product architect of Tesla. Now he’s added an amateur immunologist hat to the rack.
Musk, 49, says he won’t be taking a vaccine for COVID-19 anytime soon, saying it’s just not for him or his family.
In a podcast by The New York Times opinion section, host Kara Swisher asked Musk whether he or his family would get a COVID-19 vaccine when one is ready.
“No, I’m not at risk for COVID. Nor are my kids,” the father of six said.
Swisher also asked Musk about lockdowns intended to stem the spread of the virus. The entrepreneur said that he opposed them because they did not “serve the greater good.”
“It has diminished my faith in humanity, the whole thing… the irrationality of people in general,” the South African said.
“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,” Musk said. “I mean, this is a hot button issue where rationality takes a back seat. In the grand scheme of things what we have is something with a very low mortality rate and high contagion.”
In May, after the COVID-19 spread had peaked in the U.S. and begun to ebb, Musk defied lockdown orders in California and reopened, even though the state allowed only “essential” businesses to operate. Musk wrote on Twitter May 12: “Tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.”
Musk said at the time that employees who felt at risk didn’t need to come into the office. “If they have a legitimate reason to be at risk then they should stay at home,” he said.
“Tesla has been, apart for several weeks where we were shut down by the state, and then the overzealous Alameda County, which was a travesty, but apart from that we’ve been making cars this entire time and it’s been great,” he said on the podcast.
When Swisher argued that his views on COVID-19 run counter to his work to help humanity — from space exploration to electric cars, Musk said simply: “Everybody dies.”
Musk also said that he has been putting a lot of effort into the coronavirus pandemic, working with Harvard University’s epidemiology team.
“We’ve also spent quite a lot of time with the Harvard epidemiology team doing antibody studies, Tesla makes the vaccine machines for CureVac, [Microsoft founder Bill] Gates said something about me not doing … like, hey knucklehead, we actually make the vaccine machines for CureVac, the company you’re invested in,” Musk said.