Tesla boss Elon Musk has said he and his family wouldn’t get a coronavirus vaccine if it was available because he’s “not at risk” and defended his stand against lock downs as a way of fighting the virus.
Speaking during an interview on the New York Times podcast Sway, hosted by Kara Swisher, Musk said the US should not have gone into lock down.
“This is a hot-button issue where rationality takes a back seat … Essentially, the right thing to do would be to not have done a lock down for the whole country, but to have, I think, anyone who is at risk should be quarantined until the storm passes,” Mr Musk said.
“But this storm is coming again,” Ms Swisher noted. “You know, you’re talking a lot about saving humanity but these are humans that die in the process.”
“Everybody dies,” Mr Musk responded. “The question is what, on balance, serves the greater good?”
The 49-year-old billionaire added that lock downs were not the way to go, and had in fact “diminished” his “faith in humanity” due to “the irrationality of people in general”.
Earlier this year, he called shelter-in-place restrictions “fascist” in a tirade to investors, and threatened to move Tesla out of California before the company eventually got its way and reopened.
“I’m not at risk for COVID, nor are my kids,” Mr Musk told Swisher.
“How do you answer your employees who say, ‘I think you’re putting me and my family at risk’. What do you say to them then?” Ms Swisher asked.
“Great, stay home.”
“Stay home, that’s it?” she asked.
One employee at Tesla’s Fremont factory, where a number of employees reportedly tested positive after the factory reopened against Alameda County’s wishes, reportedly described the COVID-19 precautions there as “like nothing but with a mask on”.
Ms Swisher asked if employees would get penalised for staying home to which Mr Musk responded “if they have a legitimate reason to be at risk then they should stay home”.
“If you feel they have a good reason to be worried, do you feel a duty to pay them and make sure they’re OK? Despite the fact that you don’t agree with how they feel about COVID versus how you feel about COVID?” Ms Swisher asked.
“Let’s just move on,” Mr Musk told Ms Swisher, saying he did “not want to get into a debate about COVID” and threatening to end the podcast “if you want”.
He went on to call Microsoft founder Bill Gates a “knucklehead”.
“We actually make the vaccine machines for CureVac, that company you’re invested in,” Mr Musk said after Mr Gates “said something about me not knowing what I was doing”.
Mr Musk previously predicted on social media that there would be “close to zero” new cases in the US by the end of April, a claim which turned out to be incorrect.
In April, the US recorded more than 780,000 new cases and passed one million total.
As of Wednesday more than 206,000 deaths have been recorded in the country and more than a million around the world.