Elon Musk calls Covid-19 tests "bogus" after receiving different results on same day

midian182

Posts: 6,182   +51
Staff member
A hot potato: Elon Musk has never been shy when it comes to criticizing the Covid-19 lockdowns and downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus. Now, the Tesla boss is questioning whether tests that detect the virus are accurate after he took four in one day, two of which came back positive while two were negative.

In a recent tweet, Musk wrote: "Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for covid four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test from BD." He is likely referring to Becton Dickinson and Co's rapid antigen test. "If it's happening to me, it's happening to others," he warned.

In replies to other Twitter users, Musk said he was showing symptoms of a "typical cold." The CEO is also getting PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests from separate labs, with results expected back in 24 hours.

As noted by Reuters, antigen test supplier Becton Dickinson said in September that it was investigating reports from nursing homes that its rapid coronavirus testing equipment was producing false-positive results. The US Food and Drug Administration has warned that Covid-19 antigen tests can show false positives.

In April, Musk said coronavirus shelter-in-place orders were "fascist" and infringed on people's rights. He had previously claimed there would be "close to zero new cases" of Covid-19 in the US by the end of April. His views incurred the wrath of fellow billionaire Bill Gates, who called Musk's comments "outrageous."

During an interview on the podcast "Sway" in September, Musk said neither he nor his family would be getting a Covid-19 vaccine because he was "not at risk for Covid, nor are my kids."

The latest Coronavirus statistics for the US show that 10,873,936 people in total have tested positive for the virus, and there have been 248,585 deaths, more than any other country.

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Endymio

Posts: 1,079   +900
there have been 248,585 deaths, more than any other country.
On a per capita basis, the top nations by Covid deaths are:

1. Belgium
2. Peru
3. Spain
4. Brazil
5. Chile
6. Argentina
7. Bolivia
8. Mexico
9. United Kingdom
10. Ecuador
11. Moldava
12. United States
13. Italy
14. Columbia
15. France

Of those top 15 nations, there are only 2 that will count a death as due to Covid without requiring an actual positive Covid test: Belgium (#1) and the U.S. (#12). The U.S. also does not require a formal certification that Covid was the primary cause of death, rather than simply a factor.
 

nismo91

Posts: 1,071   +118
BD clearly states that one of their rapidtest device (Veritor) is at most 95% accurate. There's always risk for false-positive or false-negative results when compared with the more-reliable PCR results which used to take days (in the early days of the pandemic).

today PCR test should be the standard if you want an accurate result. just took one last week for less than 90USD here in Indonesia. 24-hours result. can't believe someone like Elon would even consider using such an unreliable method of testing. 4 times!

https://www.fda.gov/media/139755/download
 

Freddie159

Posts: 66   +37
On a per capita basis, the top nations by Covid deaths are:

1. Belgium
2. Peru
3. Spain
4. Brazil
5. Chile
6. Argentina
7. Bolivia
8. Mexico
9. United Kingdom
10. Ecuador
11. Moldava
12. United States
13. Italy
14. Columbia
15. France

Of those top 15 nations, there are only 2 that will count a death as due to Covid without requiring an actual positive Covid test: Belgium (#1) and the U.S. (#12). The U.S. also does not require a formal certification that Covid was the primary cause of death, rather than simply a factor.
The ONLY problem with your list is the Countries that don't provide the info like China, Russia, North Korea etc.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,597   +6,114
"Co's rapid antigen test"

Apparently he left his brains behind that day. It has been widely published that this rapid test is only the 1st indicator and that it should be followed with the more sophisticated test that takes several hours to yield results (RNA). You know, at some point he needs to quit trying to be Trump Jr. and follow simple cowboy logic: "Never miss a good opportunity to shut up"
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,079   +900
Musk should then spend some resources on making his own 15 minute test that is in the above 90% range for accuracy.
The specificity for the BD Veritor test is very high, but its sensitivity is only ~84%, meaning you have a nearly 20% chance of a false negative. Based on that, I would conclude Musk likely has the virus, and the two negative tests were the ones incorrect, as the likelihood of two false positives is extremely low.

The ONLY problem with your list is the Countries that don't provide the info like China, Russia, North Korea etc.
True enough -- and to add to that, I should point out that both China and Russia already have a vaccine, and have been vaccinating people for many months. They moved right into production after finishing Phase I trials, while the US and Europe opted for the traditional 3-phase route.
 
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poohbear

Posts: 520   +409
I've never seen an issue as divisive as Covi19. In the end, China and Russia never need to go to war with the west with a single soldier, all they need to do is release a virus and we'll crumble. Individualism has its strengths, and most certainly its weaknesses.
 

Kraemepoo

Posts: 50   +25
My neighbor, who coincidentally works for SpaceX, tested positive even though she did not show up to her appointment for the test.
 
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Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 333   +405
"Co's rapid antigen test"

Apparently he left his brains behind that day. It has been widely published that this rapid test is only the 1st indicator and that it should be followed with the more sophisticated test that takes several hours to yield results (RNA). You know, at some point he needs to quit trying to be Trump Jr. and follow simple cowboy logic: "Never miss a good opportunity to shut up"
I don't see why you'd think Elon's comments are brainless. He's sharing his experience which could be very confusing to a lot of people considering he tested both positive and negative twice each. And he is getting further testing with the PCR test.

If someone took the rapid antigen test and got a negative result when they should've tested positive, then they later found out they could've easily still had coronavirus, it does beg the question of whether these test should be relied on at all. They probably would've instead taken a different test in the first place that would've given them more reliable results.

At best, his tweets are increasing awareness that this test has low reliability alone and at worst it tells people what they already know. Is there something misleading about what he said? He clearly identified what test he took and plans to take to move forward.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,486   +3,582
I don't see why you'd think Elon's comments are brainless. He's sharing his experience which could be very confusing to a lot of people considering he tested both positive and negative twice each. And he is getting further testing with the PCR test.

If someone took the rapid antigen test and got a negative result when they should've tested positive, then they later found out they could've easily still had coronavirus, it does beg the question of whether these test should be relied on at all. They probably would've instead taken a different test in the first place that would've given them more reliable results.
If Musk himself understands that the test is inaccurate, why would he take an innacurate test? Personally, I agree with @captaincranky Musk just cannot resist the opportunity for publicity.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,486   +3,582
BD clearly states that one of their rapidtest device (Veritor) is at most 95% accurate. There's always risk for false-positive or false-negative results when compared with the more-reliable PCR results which used to take days (in the early days of the pandemic).

today PCR test should be the standard if you want an accurate result. just took one last week for less than 90USD here in Indonesia. 24-hours result. can't believe someone like Elon would even consider using such an unreliable method of testing. 4 times!

https://www.fda.gov/media/139755/download
IMO, people think Musk has brains, but he rarely exhibits any in public.
 

pit1209

Posts: 138   +222
I don't see why you'd think Elon's comments are brainless. He's sharing his experience which could be very confusing to a lot of people considering he tested both positive and negative twice each. And he is getting further testing with the PCR test.

If someone took the rapid antigen test and got a negative result when they should've tested positive, then they later found out they could've easily still had coronavirus, it does beg the question of whether these test should be relied on at all. They probably would've instead taken a different test in the first place that would've given them more reliable results.

At best, his tweets are increasing awareness that this test has low reliability alone and at worst it tells people what they already know. Is there something misleading about what he said? He clearly identified what test he took and plans to take to move forward.
He is not raising awareness, he is raising unfounded misinformation.

Those tests are known (as well as many others) not to be 100% accurate, specially the rapid test but on this situation we were left with the option to choose from a rapid test with results within minutes and a notably lower accuracy (84-94%) or to take the gold standard RT-PCR test that takes hours to show results with an accuracy range of 87-98%. If he had common sense or just a little bit of curiosity about how things work instead of driving agendas or whatever he thinks he's doing then he would understand those simple concepts, I mean isn't he a genius?
 

Endymio

Posts: 1,079   +900
If Musk himself understands that the test is inaccurate, why would he take an innacurate test?
You are confused on the timeline here. He took the test, then tweeted, after realizing it was less accurate than he'd been led to believe.

He is not raising awareness, he is raising unfounded misinformation. Those tests are known [not] to be 100% accurate,
That knowledge is not nearly as widespread as you believe, as evidenced by posts here in this very thread, confusing specificity with sensitivity. I've seen a large number of media stories spreading the same misinformation as well. (Type I vs. Type II accuracy) The test is not useful at determining that you're not infected -- it's only useful to determine that you are.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 5,486   +3,582
You are confused on the timeline here. He took the test, then tweeted, after realizing it was less accurate than he'd been led to believe.
And your point is?

As I see it, It is still on him. Apparently, he did not exercise due diligence by determining what would give the best results. Then he complains that the test is inaccurate? IMO, it is his problem. It sounds like the fact that the test he took is inaccurate is information that is readily available to all.
 
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Endymio

Posts: 1,079   +900
And your point is?
My point was that your statement was nonsensical:

"If Musk himself understands that the test is inaccurate, why would he take an innacurate test?"

Deflections aside, the sequence of events makes clear that the understanding postdates the test. And while the knowledge of the test's poor sensitivity may be "readily available to all" doesn't change the fact that most people -- including nearly every journalist in the nation -- doesn't grasp the difference.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,211   +4,971
IMO, people think Musk has brains, but he rarely exhibits any in public.
..........This is the point where I flashed back to him showing drawings of his proposed space suit, for his proposed colony on mars.

And then I remembered the time when he proposed that we were living in a simulation, and I thought to myself, "this douche bag wouldn't make a pimple on the a** of Jean Paul Sartre's circular double talk.