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Elon Musk could have covid-19, he should be in quarantine

Elon Musk could have covid-19, he should be in quarantine

(CNN) — SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said last night on social media that he conducted four tests for COVID-19 in one day, two of which were positive and two negative. It’s not yet clear if Musk has the virus, but the news immediately raised concerns about whether a diagnosis will affect SpaceX’s plans to send astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station this weekend.

Musk issued a short series of tweets overnight, stating that he had “minor colds,” “coughs,” and “mild fever” for the past few days. He added that he expects to get the results of a PCR test, which is known to be more accurate than the type of rapid test Musk said he took, within 24 hours.

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Meanwhile, Musk’s tweets echoed across the country to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where four astronauts are preparing to travel to space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on Sunday.

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine, who was scheduled to hold a routine news conference Friday morning, told reporters who inquired about Musk’s tweets that according to NASA policy, Musk should be in quarantine and SpaceX would try to determine who might have been in contact with Musk.

On Friday night, during another routine news conference, NASA and SpaceX officials at the Kennedy Space Center said contact tracing was largely complete and determined that no one is essential to the mission to this end. week was at risk of exposure to covid-19.

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Astronauts are almost certainly not at risk, according to NASA deputy director of flight operations Norm Knight.

The space agency has regularly tested anyone who has been close to the crew. Even before the pandemic, NASA astronauts adhered to preflight quarantine rules to ensure they didn’t carry a disease into space, where viruses and bacteria could spread quickly between crew members in a space. spacecraft. NASA has also implemented more stringent measures in response to COVID-19.

For two weeks before launch, the astronauts have been in “hard quarantine,” meaning they are “totally isolated” and cannot be near anyone outside of the launch team, including their families, Knight said.

And Musk, he added, will not be able to enter NASA facilities on launch day.

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“It’s restricted access,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re Elon Musk or Jim Bridenstine…if either has been compromised, then we won’t let you near the crew. And again, it’s to protect the mission as a whole.

It’s unclear whether Musk had planned to attend the launch in Florida, though he is frequently seen at SpaceX launch control at the Kennedy Space Center during major SpaceX missions.

SpaceX’s manned spaceflight program chief Benji Reed said SpaceX’s mission control center in Hawthorne, California, adheres to strict health and safety standards. Employees who perform critical roles in the launch process have been tested, temperature checked and quarantined to ensure their health ahead of this weekend’s mission.

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Reed also urged members of the public not to ignore Covid-19 if they choose to watch the Florida ground launch this weekend.

“We know that everyone is very excited about launch and very excited about recovery and human spaceflight in general,” Reed said. “We certainly ask everyone involved, if you come to watch the launch… please wear your masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Do the right thing there to keep everyone safe.

The mission is scheduled to lift off Sunday at 7:27 pm Miami time. The original launch date was Saturday night, but officials pushed it back due to unfavorable weather conditions, NASA and SpaceX officials said.

Why Musk’s tests may have been wrong

Musk said on Twitter that the four tests he performed on Thursday were rapid tests, or “antigen tests,” carried out by the same nurse at the same facility. He alleged in his late-night tweets that something “extremely untrue” was going on, echoing months of previous tweets in which Musk has expressed doubts about the COVID-19 threat. He also previously shared a YouTube video that was later removed for containing misinformation about the virus.

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In a recent interview with journalist Kara Swisher, Musk doubled down on his skepticism, saying he would not take a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available and insisting that lockdown orders designed to reduce the spread of the virus did more harm than good.

In fact, medical professionals are well aware that rapid antigen tests can be inaccurate and lead to false negatives or, unknown, false positives.

PCR tests, on the other hand, can take a day or more to return results, but are much more accurate.

This is because PCR tests look for signs of the genetic material of the covid-19 virus, while antigen tests look for one of the viral proteins or a small trace of the presence of the virus. And while both types of tests rely on a nasal swab, PCR tests require complicated specialty labs and trained technicians to do.

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That is why in the early days of the pandemic, PCR tests were so far behind, sometimes taking more than a week to return results. Antigen tests were expected to provide a faster, though less accurate, picture of how the new coronavirus spread across the United States.

Musk also called the company that conducted the antigen tests he conducted Thursday, New Jersey-based medical technology company BD.

Jessica Offerjost, BD’s communications manager, responded in a statement emailed to CNN Business, saying the company “is aware of the tweet and is trying to get input more consistent with our quality management process.”

“While the scientific community agrees that no diagnostic test is perfect, we stand behind the quality, utility, and science of our system,” the statement read. “There are many factors that could lead to a discordant result…As we clearly state in our instructions for use, negative results should be considered in the context of a specific patient situation and confirmed with a molecular PCR assay if necessary for patient management. patient ‘.

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According to Musk’s tweets, he expects to receive the results of his PCR test on Friday night. He also noted that he was currently experiencing no symptoms, although he “took NyQuil.”