Elon Musk, the SpaceX chief government, has examined optimistic twice, and adverse twice, for the coronavirus after taking 4 speedy virus checks, he revealed in a disgruntled tweet early Friday morning. The announcement got here simply days earlier than his firm’s much-anticipated launch of a Crew Dragon capsule that can carry 4 astronauts to the International Space Station.
Antigen checks, which search for items of coronavirus protein, are low cost and handy, usually delivering outcomes to folks in minutes. But they’re additionally much less dependable than laboratory checks that use a method referred to as polymerase chain response, or P.C.R., which hunts for fragments of genetic materials. P.C.R.-based checks are broadly thought-about the gold customary in infectious illness diagnostics.
The Veritor, a product produced by the medical gadget producer BD, is marketed as having a false adverse price of 16 %, making it very doable that the 2 negatives Mr. Musk obtained had mistakenly missed the virus in his physique. But antigen checks are additionally liable to false optimistic outcomes, which incorrectly determine wholesome folks as contaminated.
Mr. Musk’s testing conundrum arrives at a probably high-stakes second. Should he be really contaminated, NASA won’t permit him to go to with the 4 astronauts on Sunday, as he did with Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley earlier than their profitable launch in May.
Shortly after tweeting his frustration at his quartet of antigen take a look at outcomes, Mr. Musk instructed his followers that he had sought out a P.C.R.-based follow-up take a look at, which might ship a solution inside 24 hours.
Just hours later, Mr. Musk, who has repeatedly voiced his frustration with the pandemic and its financial repercussions, took to Twitter once more to forged doubt on the validity of P.C.R.-based checks, asking his followers to teach him on whether or not the diagnostic instruments have been prone to generate false positives.
Mr. Musk’s announcement of his checks, which was imbued with the same observe of skepticism, was met with a mixture of encouragement and jeers. Some folks baselessly argued his combined outcomes have been proof that current rises in coronavirus circumstances had been inflated. Others identified that his repetitive testing struck a discordant tone in opposition to the backdrop of a nation during which many are nonetheless struggling to entry coronavirus diagnostics.