Elon Musk, Tesla Inc Chief Executive Officer, has repeatedly played down the severity of coronavirus since the start of the pandemic. On Thursday, Musk said that a rapid antigen test results from the same machine and the same test showed he tested positive twice and then negative twice all on the same day. He questioned the validy of the test by suggesting "something extremely bogus is going on."
We rate Musk's claim that his test is "bogus" as misleading. Antigen tests can be completed in a matter of hours, but are less accurate and should therefore be used as a screening tool rather than a diagnostic one. Antigen tests are more likely to miss an active COVID-19 infection compared to molecular tests.
Positive results are usually highly accurate, but false positives can happen, especially in areas where very few people have the virus. Negative results may need to be confirmed with a molecular test.
PCR (polymerise chain reaction) tests take longer, but are far more accurate. PCR tests work on a molecular level and detect the virus’s genetic material.
On Saturday, Musk took to Twitter to clarify the situation surrounding his health.
“Am getting wildly different results from different labs, but most likely I have a moderate case of COVID. My symptoms are that of a minor cold, which is no surprise, since a coronavirus is a type of cold.”
Though other coronaviruses do cause types of the common cold, COVID can be far more severe. In fact, more than a million people have already died from it worldwide.