The billionaire entrepreneur is an opponent of restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19.
The winter season is generally conducive to the circulation of many viruses.
This winter is no exception and could even be even worse than usual, according to infectious-disease specialists. It’s the first winter since economies reopened and covid-19 restrictions, like masking, intended to limit the spread of the coronavirus were lifted.
Many alerts have already been issued by the medical profession and health authorities, who recommend wearing masks in crowded situations, like public transport. But that advice was and again is being met with mockery and resistance from a good part of the population.
One of the main reasons is covid fatigue, as Dr. Anthony Fauci, the immunologist who is the face of the U.S. response to the pandemic, recently acknowledged.
“We’re doing much, much lower from a percentage point that we shouldn’t be doing you know, in some respects, that may be understandable, because people want to be done with covid,” Fauci told Fox 5 Television’s “Good Day, New York” on Dec. 9.
The nation’s top infectious-disease expert, who this month plans to step down from government positions including as President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, added: “We’ve all been exhausted over the last three years. But there still is a lot to do to protect yourself and your family and, ultimately, your community.”
Musk: Scientists Using Covid for Funding
No surprise, then, that the social networks are ablaze with comments from opponents of possible new anti-covid measures. And it’s in this context that Elon Musk, the billionaire serial entrepreneur, has let go harsh criticism of experts who work on infectious diseases.
Musk says that the coronavirus — specifically Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes covid-19 — has become a business for scientists looking for funds to finance their research.
Coronavirus, he says, has become the magic word to win funding in the science world. As a result, the billionaire questions the judgment of scientists and their good faith.
“They just kept calling different viruses C19, because that got more funding than if not,” Musk said on Dec. 14 in a thread on Twitter. “That’s why I called it the ‘Virus of Theseus’: how many RNA changes are required before it’s *not* C19!?”
In the thread, Billy Markus, one of the co-creators of the meme coin dogecoin, with whom Musk regularly converses on the platform, explained that he had recently been sick with covid-19.
Markus said: “Interesting how i still refer to 2020-2021 as ‘during covid’ like it’s in the past, when i literally have covid right now 🤣” He added that “this variant i got felt like a very mild flu for me.”
That’s when Musk made his remarks. His reference to Theseus, the Greek mythological hero, is about the ship of Theseus, which wrestles with a paradox: If all the parts that comprise an object are replaced, is it still the same thing after the changes?
But the billionaire’s criticisms of scientists have been corrected by Community Notes, Twitter’s fact-checking feature, which he has been touting since he took over the platform on Oct. 27 after paying $44 billion for it.
Musk Is Fact-Checked by Twitter
“While the different variants of Sars-Cov-2 have some changes from each other, they’re all evolutions of the same virus, not different viruses,” Community Notes said, fact-checking the Techno King, as he’s known at Tesla (TSLA) – Get Free Report. “Sars-Cov-2 has ~10,000 aminos, and ~75 are different in current variants from the original.”
In its comment, Community Notes also added a link to a page on the different variants of the coronavirus.
“All viruses, including Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, change over time,” the World Health Organization says. “Some changes may affect the virus’s properties, such as how easily it spreads, the associated disease severity, or the performance of vaccines, therapeutic medicines, diagnostic tools, or other public health and social measures.”
Like Community Notes, the feedback was particularly negative, with many users asking Musk if he knew anything about virology.
“What are your qualifications in virology Mr Musk?” asked one Twitter user.
“IRL I’m a Physician, Virologist (Stanford), and retired UC Prof. you can DM me anytime if you want to be medically schooled. I worked on coronaviruses in 1980’s we knew then this pandemic was coming & it kept us up at night. So far its been a cakewalk vs its deadly potential,” added another Twitter user.
“‘They’ keep calling it SARS-CoV-2, well, because it is. You have zero understanding of virology and infectious diseases,” another user lambasted Musk.
Musk’s attacks on virology experts come as no real surprise. On Nov. 23 his Twitter removed safeguards put in place by the former team to limit the spread of misinformation against the coronavirus.
“Effective Nov. 23, 2022, Twitter is no longer enforcing the covid-19 misleading-information policy,” the company said on its transparency page.
The announcement suggests that accounts spreading false information about the pandemic will not be penalized.
The serial entrepreneur also recently attacked Fauci, calling for him to be prosecuted.