In an email to SpaceX employees seen by BuzzFeed News on Friday, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk rejected hazards over the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, claiming that given all the evidence he has seen about the disease, “this is not within the top 100 health risks in the United States”.
“As a basis for comparison, the risk of death from C19 is vastly less than the risk of death from driving your car home. There are about 36 thousand automotive deaths per deaths [sic], as compared to 36 so far this year for C19”, the SpaceX founder and Tesla chief executive reportedly asserted.
He also referred to “the trends” which he said do not support the conclusion that the COVID-19 “will soon become a top 100 health risk for people who are otherwise healthy and young to middle-aged […]”.
“Among other things, the media is using the ‘presumed’ positive number of C19 cases, not the confirmed number”, Musk added.
Tesla and SpaceX have not yet commented on the statement, which comes after Musk tweeted last week that “the coronavirus panic is dumb”.
Many netizens reacted angrily to what one user described as a “pretty stupid and ill-informed statement for a smart guy”.
He is a danger and should be deported.— Laurie Kilmartin (@anylaurie16) March 14, 2020
How can someone as smart as @elonmusk not understand the health care service crisis that is pending? How?— McCockiner's Foil (@BarryMcCIsBad) March 13, 2020
So irresponsible.— Susie Greer (@VtSusie) March 14, 2020
They can infect those with compromised health or advanced age.
Irresponsible message.— Steve (@Stvrob_63) March 13, 2020
Musk treats employees like ammunition.— xonkd (@xonkd7) March 14, 2020
Pretty stupid and ill-informed statement for a smart guy @elonmusk— Fire Tracker (@TheFireTracker2) March 14, 2020
It's almost like he's not a genius... 🤔— Alan Ohnsman 🚶🏼♂️🚲🚌🚄 (@alanohnsman) March 13, 2020
There were some users, however, who supported Musk’s remarks.
He is correct.— SPY 5000 Airways LLC (NEED BAILOUT) (@CapitalDownside) March 13, 2020
He is right BTW.— illinidiva (@illinidiva12) March 13, 2020
He's right. We need to ban cars.— vandenberglegs (@vandenberglegs) March 14, 2020
He's not wrong.— Pony Soldier (@dkraft) March 14, 2020
Also - Wuhan Flu
Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Health Security, has meanwhile lashed out at Musk’s email remarks, insisting that “it doesn’t make logical sense comparing those types of things”.
“This virus is not a containable virus, and while most people do well with it, there is a proportion that don’t. People may end up dying from this, and we should be focused on trying to limit people’s exposure”, he pointed out.
Adalja was echoed by Brandon Brown, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of California, who told BuzzFeed News that Musk’s rationale was “crazy” and that “to compare something like car crashes to a virus is just kind of disrespectful to employees”.
The remarks came as US President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday to help tackle the increasing outbreak of coronavirus in the country, where more than 2,000 COVID-19 cases and at least 41 disease-related deaths have already been confirmed.
This was preceded by World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announcing on Wednesday that the COVID-19 outbreak can be viewed as a pandemic, urging “every sector and every individual” to become “involved in the fight” against the outbreak.