Musk revealed his refusal to get the Wuhan coronavirus vaccine during a Sept. 28 interview on the New York Times' Sway podcast. He gave a short answer to podcast host Kara Swisher when she asked the Tesla head if he would get the COVID-19 jab. "No, I'm not at risk for [COVID-19]. Nor are my kids."
The podcast host pointed out the contradiction between Musk's efforts to benefit mankind – such as eco-friendly electric vehicles and spacecraft – and his view of the pandemic. He remarked that "everybody dies" and added that the pandemic has reduced his faith in humanity. "It has diminished my faith in humanity, the whole thing … [because of] the irrationality of people in general," Musk said.
Nevertheless, Musk's diminished faith in humanity has not distracted him from his endeavors. The Tesla and SpaceX founder said he is not focusing too much on the pandemic. Instead, he has put all his efforts into doing what he can to improve humanity. "I really am just trying to do the most amount of good with the time that I have on this Earth. And … I [have] got to do this without my head exploding and [me] going too crazy," Musk commented.
The technology bigwig hailing from South Africa mentioned his work with Harvard University's epidemiology team and German firm CureVac when asked about his recent endeavors. He told Swisher that Tesla "also spent quite a lot of time with the Harvard epidemiology team doing antibody studies."
Musk also took a swipe at Microsoft founder Bill Gates during the podcast, telling Swisher that Tesla made the machines CureVac uses to produce vaccines. He remarked: "[Bill] Gates said something about me not doing [anything to help the world during the pandemic.] Hey knucklehead, we actually make the vaccines for CureVac, the company you're invested in."
Musk also expressed disdain toward lockdown orders put in place in various states, calling them "a grave mistake." The Tesla CEO commented: "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." The "right thing to do" would have been to quarantine people with a very high COVID-19 risk "until the storm passes" instead of locking down the whole country, he added. (Related: WHO reverses course, again: Lockdowns as primary response to COVID-19 now said to be "damaging".)
Furthermore, Musk defended his move to keep Tesla factories open amid the pandemic. He noted that he has been going to work as usual – with SpaceX already sending astronauts to space and back. Swisher asked what his employees who feel at risk would think about reporting for work. Musk told her that these employees should stay home. "If they have a legitimate reason to be at risk, then they should stay at home," he elaborated.
Swisher pressed further by asking him to step into the shoes of his employees intimidated by the fact that they need to work despite the threat of COVID-19. Musk refused to further comment on the matter, telling the podcast host to "move on" because he did not want to get into a debate about the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Musk told Swisher that he experienced some difficulty keeping his Tesla factory in California open. Back in May 2020, the electric vehicle manufacturer sued Alameda County for keeping its Fremont facility closed. The facility employing 10,000 workers resumed operations in the same month after being closed since March 23 – openly flouting the county's lockdown mandate.
According to Tesla's lawsuit, the shutdown order put in place by the county violated an earlier order by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The governor's prior mandate allowed businesses in "16 crucial infrastructure industries," including transportation, to continue operations. Tesla later dropped the suit against Alameda County on May 20 "without any prejudice", The Verge reported. (Related: Elon Musk moves to Texas after friction with California lawmakers over coronavirus lockdowns.)
The Tesla CEO said during the podcast with Swisher: "[Apart] for several weeks where we were shut down by the state, and then [by] the overzealous Alameda County, … we've been making cars this entire time and it's been great."
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