Billionaire Tesla boss Elon Musk has once again lashed out at Bill Gates, calling the Microsoft co-founder a “knucklehead” during a podcast.
The rival tech titans clashed in July after Gates cast doubt on Musk’s knowledge about coronavirus vaccine development in an interview with CNBC, asserting that Musk’s “positioning is to maintain a high level of outrageous comments.”
“He makes a great electric car. And his rockets work well. So, you know, he’s allowed to say these things. I hope that, you know, he doesn’t confuse areas he’s not involved in too much,” Gates said, prompting a sarcastic response from Musk.
The spat continued this week in a new episode of Sway, a podcast hosted by journalist Kara Swisher, as the Tesla boss suggested he could terminate the interview after being grilled about his controversial statements about the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“I should say, we’ve also spent quite a lot of time with the Harvard epidemiology team doing antibody studies. Tesla makes the vaccine machines for CureVac. Gates said something about me not knowing what I was doing,” Musk said.
“It’s like, hey, knucklehead, we actually make the vaccine machines for CureVac, that company you’re invested in,” he added, before characterizing the reaction to the virus as “irrational” and indicating that he and his family would not take a vaccine.
“I’m not at risk for COVID, nor are my kids,” Musk said.
In July, Musk said on Twitter that Tesla was helping to make mobile molecule printers as part of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate being tested by German company CureVac.
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The project is exploring the production of portable mRNA production units, saying on its website that mRNA is a biomolecule able to treat diseases and create vaccines.
It’s far from the first time Musk and Gates have indirectly bickered online. In September, Musk said on Twitter that Gates had “no clue” about electric vehicles after the Microsoft co-founder appeared to snub Tesla’s offerings in a blog the month prior.
In March, as the novel coronavirus was first rapidly spreading in the U.S., Musk wrongly predicted that U.S. cases would be “close to zero” by the end of the next month.
After California went into a lockdown in an attempt to limit the spread of the infectious respiratory diseases caused by the coronavirus, Musk became embroiled in a legal spat with Alameda County officials over the threatened closure of his factory.
On April 29, he tweeted “Free America Now” and described the lockdown situation as being “de facto house arrest.” In the months since, he has doubled down. In the Sway podcast, he responded to concerns of the human death toll: “Everybody dies.”
Musk said: “This entire time SpaceX has been at work. Through this entire thing we didn’t skip a day. We had national security clearance because we were doing national security work. We sent astronauts to the space station and back.
“Tesla has been, apart from several weeks where we were shut down by the state and then overzealous Alameda County, which was a travesty. But apart from that we’ve been making cars this entire time. And it’s been great,” he added. When asked about if he would pay workers who need to stay home, Musk said: “Let’s just move on.”
COVID-19 has been linked to over seven million cases and more than 200,000 deaths across the United States, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.