- Elon Musk, billionaire and Tesla owner, has said that children are essentially immune to coronavirus.
- For now Twitter is ignoring the tweet, though it does have a policy on checking misinformation.
- Musk had earlier called coronavirus pandemic 'dumb.'
Elon Musk is no stranger to controversy. His tweets can be, to put it mildly, unusual. Last night again he made a controversial statement, this time on coronavirus pandemic. While replying to a user on Twitter, Musk said that kids are essentially immune to Covid-19, a disease caused by coronavirus. Musk is wrong because children have been infected by coronavirus, although it has been observed that kids don't get as sick as adults after the infection.
While replying to a couple of users Musk tweeted, "Kids are essentially immune, but elderly with existing conditions are vulnerable. Family gatherings with close contact between kids & grandparents are probably most risky."
On the face of it the tweet is wrong. It is also probably irresponsible given that a lot of unverified information about coronavirus is floating around and it can confuse people. The reality is that coronavirus can infect and has infected children and even toddlers but it doesn't make them very sick. At worst, they seem to be getting cold and flu like symptoms and are not falling ill like adults, many of who have required hospitalisation.
It is likely that when Musk said children are essentially immune he meant that coronavirus has not given serious illness to kids. But do keep in mind that Covid-19 and coronavirus are still evolving and even scientists right now don't have the complete picture. In fact, experts have said that it is fallacy to believe right now that children or young adults cannot be harmed by coronavirus. Moreover, when infected, children can act as vectors which carry the disease to less immune people.
That makes Musk's tweet misleading, if not outright wrong.
Twitter so far is letting the tweet stand. Twitter says it has not taken down the tweet because it is not definitive. "We reviewed the Tweets, and they don't violate our rules at this time. Please continue to share anything you think we should take a closer look at -- we'll continue to rely on trusted partners, such as health authorities, to flag content that is harmful," Twitter said in a statement to Axios.
On March 18, Twitter came out with a new coronavirus misinformation policy. One of the points which states Propagating false or misleading information around COVID-19.
Twitter also stated that its new rules forbids the messages that deny scientific facts about transmission of the virus. Here's what it cited as an example, "Denial of established scientific facts about transmission during the incubation period or transmission guidance from global and local health authorities, such as COVID-19 does not infect children because we haven't seen any cases of children being sick."
This is not the first time Musk has made his comments on coronavirus. Earlier, he called the panic around the virus dumb. In another tweet he also said that coronavirus is going to be just like common flu.
Elon Musk, on Thursday offered that his company Tesla will make ventilators in case of a shortage due to the pandemic. Musk wrote, "We will make ventialors if there is a shortage." The tweet got a reply from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio who said that the city was facing shortage of ventilators coronavirus cases have surged there and that it would buy them from Tesla. To that Musk replied, "Sounds good, we will connect with your team to understand potential needs."