SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on social media on November 13 that he took four COVID-19 tests in one day. Two of the tests showed he was positive, and two of the tests showed he was negative.
It is still not clear if Musk has COVID-19. Still, the news about his diagnosis immediately caused concern about whether his condition will affect the plans of SpaceX to launch astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station this weekend.
Musk may not participate in the launch
Musk let out a series of tweets and stated that he had a mild cold, cough, and fever for the past few days. The business mogul added that he is waiting to get the results of a PCR test, which usually takes 24 hours. PCR tests are known to be more accurate than the type of rapid test that he first took.
Meanwhile, his tweets caught the attention of those at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where four astronauts are waiting to ride into space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on November 15.
NASA chief Jim Bridenstine told reporters who asked him about Musk's tweet that, per NASA policies, Musk should be in quarantine, and SpaceX would be attempting to know who might have come into contact with Musk.
On November 13, NASA and SpaceX officials at Kennedy Space Center said that the contact tracing was complete, and they determined no one essential to the mission was at risk of exposure to COVID-19. Musk will not be allowed into the facility on launch day, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Why Musk's tests may have been wrong
Musk took his sentiments to Twitter and said that the four tests he took were rapid tests or antigen tests conducted by the same nurse at the same facility.
Musk alleged in his series of tweets that there was something "bogus" going on. This echoed his earlier tweets in which he expressed his doubts about the pandemic, according to LA Times.
The SpaceX CEO also shared a YouTube video that was later removed for containing misinformation about the virus.
In a recent interview with Kara Swisher, Musk said he would not take a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available and insisted that the stay-at-home orders made to stop the virus's spread have done more harm than good.
Medical professionals are well aware that rapid antigen tests can be inaccurate, and it has the chance to generate false-negative or false-positive results, but it rarely happens.
PCR tests, on the other hand, can take a day or more to return results, but they are far more accurate. That is because PCR tests search for signs of the COVID-19 virus's genetic material, while antigen tests search for one of the viral proteins or a small trace of the virus's presence.
Even though both tests rely on a nasal swab, PCR tests need complicated specialized labs and trained technicians to conduct.
That is also why in the early days of the pandemic, PCR tests were backlogged, and sometimes it took more than a week to return results.
The antigen tests were expected to give a faster picture of how the novel coronavirus was spreading throughout the country.