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Elon Musk says coronavirus pandemic is 'practice run' for future viruses


Elon musk

Elon Musk

Mike Blake | Reuters

Elon Musk said how the United States reacts to the Covid-19 pandemic can be viewed as a sort of trial run before an even more deadly virus spreads across the globe.

"At some point there probably will be a pandemic with a high mortality rate, something that's killing a lot of 20 year olds, let's say. This is kind of like a practice run for something that might in the future might have a really high mortality rate," the Tesla CEO said in an interview with comedian Joe Rogan that aired Thursday. 

"We kind of got to go through this without it being something that kills vast numbers of young, healthy people," he added. Musk stressed that he believes the mortality rate of Covid-19 is much lower than estimated. The World Health Organization said in March that the Covid-19 mortality rate is 3.4% globally. 

The WHO warned last month that more young people are becoming critically ill and dying from the coronavirus. Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's emergencies program, has said that it's a mistake to assume the virus only seriously harms older people and those with underlying health conditions. 

Musk has been a vocal critic of how government and health officials are reacting to the coronavirus pandemic that's killed at least 73,431 people in the United States. While talking to analysts in the company's Q1 2020 earnings call, Musk said stay-at-home orders are "forcibly imprisoning people in their homes against all their constitutional rights."

Public health officials have routinely cautioned that reopening too quickly could result in cases of Covid-19 re-accelerating and developing new hot spots that could overwhelm health systems.  

Musk that people will come out of the pandemic with healthier habits, such as increased hand washing and mask usage, which he views as a silver lining. More vaccines and cures could be generated too as the understanding of these viruses improve, he added. 

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