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COVID-19 may mean that Elon Musk can’t go to SpaceX’s NASA astronaut launch



  • Elon Musk said on Twitter that he tested positive for the coronavirus.
  • However, the fast test musk used is not as reliable as other types. He got two positive and two negative results.
  • Nevertheless, according to NASA’s regulations, his positive test may prevent Musk from participating in SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission launch on Sunday.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Elon Musk said on Twitter on Thursday night that he tested positive for COVID-19 based on rapid screening.

Musk wrote on Twitter Friday morning: “Mild breathing, cough and mild fever for a few days.”

; “Although I took NyQuil, I have no symptoms.”

But Musk also pointed out that two identical rapid tests performed on the same day returned negative. A more precise diagnostic test is needed to confirm that he has coronavirus, but the timing will not be worse.

SpaceX, a rocket company founded by Musk Corporation in 2002, plans to put four NASA astronauts into orbit on Sunday. The flight to the International Space Station will be SpaceX’s first human space mission to NASA. The astronaut plans to stay in space for six months, which will also make the mission the longest space flight ever in the United States.

However, the NASA agreement stipulates that it may not be allowed to launch Musk at the location of the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a mission named “Crew 1”. The departure time is set at 7:27 p.m. EST on Sunday night; it was delayed from Saturday night due to the weather.

Crew 1 Musk Florida

SpaceX’s “Crew Dragon” spacecraft sits on the Falcon 9 rocket for the launch of “Crew 1” at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on November 12, 2020. ready.

Space X



NASA’s employee rules stipulate that anyone with a fever, cough, or a positive test result should “stay at home or go home immediately” and be “asymptomatic” before asking the supervisor to return.

NASA rules say: “Your supervisor will consult with the center medical staff to determine when it is safe to return to work.”

The accuracy of the antigen test is not as good as other tests

The test musk used in the BD Veritor system for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 can look for antigens: proteins on or in viruses. According to the BD website, the test can get results within 15 minutes.

In contrast, PCR tests perform a more in-depth screening of the genetic code of the virus, which is why it usually takes several days to obtain results. If performed correctly, the PCR test “will be accurately close to 100% accurate,” Dr. Emily Volk, assistant professor of pathology at Texas Health University in San Antonio, told Healthline.

The problem with speeding up the process is that many rapid antigen-based rapid COVID-19 tests can only infect about 70% to 80% of the virus, and they may produce false negatives. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that laboratory tests may be required to confirm negative rapid test results, and the CDC stated that these tests are “usually less sensitive than viral tests.”

BD Beckton Dickinson

Logo for the regional headquarters of Becton Dickinson (BD), a medical technology company in Silicon Valley, Menlo Park, California, November 14, 2017

Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images


According to Fierce Biotech, in clinical trials, the false negative rate of the BD test is about 16%, but the false positive rate is zero. But according to the Wall Street Journal, the company has since reported some false positive results from tests conducted in nursing homes.

Musk said on Twitter that he is undergoing a PCR test and the test results will be returned within 24 hours.

“Please isolate while waiting for the result”

Dr. Yukari Manabe, an infectious disease researcher at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that because of Musk’s positive results, he should be safe for others.

Manabe told Business Insider: “No test is perfect. Since Mr. Musk has symptoms and ambiguous results, he should seek molecular testing and self-isolate.” “In addition, he should be screened for other respiratory pathogens.”

Angie Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University, also emphasized on Twitter that Musk should stay away from others until his PCR test results come back.

Rasmussen tweeted last Friday: “Since you are symptomatic, please isolate him while waiting for the PCR test result. The false positive rate of this test is very low.”

SpaceX did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s inquiry about whether Musk will participate in the launch.

Bridenstine says NASA may not let Musk participate in the launch

Jim Bradenstein, NASA Administrator, Moon Moon Surface, United States American Flag NHQ201811290007_orig

NASA Administrator Jim Bradenstein answers questions at an event held at NASA headquarters in Washington on November 29, 2018.

NASA/Bill Ingles



At a press conference held at the Kennedy Space Center on Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bradenstein did not directly confirm whether Musk was allowed to enter the Kennedy Space Center’s launch control building observation mission. However, he pointed out that it is very likely that musk will not appear.

He said: “When someone at the Kennedy Space Center and the entire NASA test positive for COVID, I will tell you that this is our policy to isolate and isolate ourselves.” “So, we expect that will happen.”

Bridenstine added that the agency “hopes that SpaceX will conduct any appropriate contact tracking.”

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