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Over the years, Elon Musk’s Twitter use hasn’t inspired much confidence in his ability to think all that rationally and clearly.
It would take too long to list every mishap and ridiculous tweet, so we’ll summarise with a reminder that even Tesla took out a court order against him to stop him from talking about the company online.
Naturally, with the onset of a global pandemic, Elon couldn’t help getting involved. To be fair, he redirected operations towards making medical equipment, which could be somewhat useful in treating the virus.
The kind of medical equipment that he’s producing, however, seems to have caused some confusion for Musk and the people he tried to help, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
First, the New York Post provides some insight into Musk and how he’s handled the pandemic thus far.
Tech bros, it seems, develop a Jesus complex right after their first big deal — believing they (and only they) can save the world because, as their acolytes and mothers have told them, they are just that brilliant.
See: Uber’s Travis Kalanick, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and, most especially, Elon Musk.
Musk has been making outrageous claims about COVID-19 since the virus went global.
He started out by calling the reaction the pandemic “dumb”:
More than 40 000 people have now died in the US.
In some cases, attempts to use chloroquine have produced “frightening effects”, such as “fatal heart complications”. Children are by no means immune to the virus. I’m not going to go into the “coronavirus is dumb” comment. It speaks for itself.
The tech billionaire then decided to make himself useful with “FDA approved ventilators”, which would be shipped to hospitals across the US.
“We have extra FDA approved ventilators. Will ship to hospitals worldwide within Tesla delivery regions. Device & shipping costs are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in [a] warehouse.”
Musk was not making ventilators. He was producing Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure (BiPAP) machines. There’s a difference. Newsweek published the tweet he wrote when he was called out on this:
“A mask or nose ‘ventilator’ with moderately increased oxygen percentage will help,” Musk wrote on Twitter yesterday. “This is common in hospitals. Intubation, where a tube is jammed down your throat under sedation and you’re fed high pressure, pure oxygen for several days to weeks is questionable.”
The last time I checked, the acronym ‘MD’ does not appear after Musk’s name. BiPAP sleep apnea machines that utilise up to date technology are primarily used for people who struggle with sleep apnea, and can be used to briefly treat COVID-19 patients in the ICU.
Ventilators (actual ventilators) which take over the body’s breathing process when the disease has caused the lungs to fail, thus giving the patient time to fight off the infection and recover, are what is really needed right now.
Back to the New York Post, for the worst part of this fiasco. “Turns, out, what [Musk] initially sent to hospitals, was not only not a ventilator, but a five-year-old BiPAP sleep apnea machine that can’t be used to treat coronavirus victims in the ICU”.
By April 16, a number of the hospitals on Musk’s list of recipients hadn’t received any form of breathing apparatus – not even the newer models.
This isn’t the first time he’s donned a proverbial cape and rushed in, inadvisedly, to save the world. His attempts to help rescue a Thai football team trapped in a cave ended with a defamation lawsuit. He has also caused untold problems for Tesla.
Perhaps he could put his billions to better use by donating them to relief funds, then stepping out.
And please, Elon, stop tweeting.
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