Elon Musk Again Calls For COVID-19 Lockdowns to End in Great Barrington Declaration Discussion

Elon Musk has once again called for an end to lockdown measures intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Tesla CEO has been one of the most high-profile critics of lockdown and has repeatedly downplayed the pandemic over the past several months.

His latest comments were made as part of a Twitter discussion started by right-wing journalist Toby Young, who once argued for what he described as "progressive eugenics."

Young was claiming that the website of the Great Barrington Declaration, a petition that says that anybody who is not vulnerable to the virus "should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal," does not appear in Google's search results.

The Great Barrington Declaration calls for nursing to only "use staff with acquired immunity" and for retired people to "have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home" and "meet family members outside rather than inside."

A spokesperson for Google has confirmed to Newsweek that it "did not take any action to impact how this site appeared in Google."

"It can take a little time for our automated systems to learn enough about new pages like this for them to rank better for relevant terms," Danny Sullivan, Google's public liaison for search, explained on the Google Search forums.

"This delay can vary by country. This page is and was ranking in the first page in the US, has risen elsewhere & likely will continue automatically.

"For example, the official Joe Biden website took some time to appear in the first page for searches seeking it, after it launched. As with that case, this case or any case, we'll look to see how we can improve freshness for such navigational queries.

"Do keep in mind that rankings can change often. With a new page especially, you might see fluctuations as we continue to learn more about it."

In the example referenced by Sullivan, a parody site mocking Joe Biden was given greater prominence than the official Joe Biden campaign site in Google.

Responding to a tweet from Tesla fan Pranay Pathole, who calls for countries around the world to "learn from Sweden's" response to COVID-19, Musk wrote: "Yes. We also have to consider population life-months lost from lockdowns & other restrictions vs life-months lost from any given disease."

Tesla CEO Elon Musk
Elon Musk leaves after giving a statement to the press as he arrives to have a look at the construction site of the new Tesla Gigafactory near Berlin on September 03, 2020 near Gruenheide, Germany. The Tesla CEO has repeatedly downplayed the pandemic and called for lockdown measures to be lifted. Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Sweden has taken a softer approach to the pandemic than most countries, choosing not to impose a national lockdown, but to encourage personal responsibility instead.

It opted not to close businesses and schools, or to make the use of face masks mandatory. It did, however, place a ban on gatherings of 50 people, asked people to observe and respect physical distancing, and told vulnerable people to self-isolate.

In May, Sweden recorded the most deaths from COVID-19 per capita in Europe, but in August, Mike Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Program, praised the country following a considerable drop in outbreak statistics reported over the summer.

Cases there are now on the rise again and Swedish health officials are considering new protocols to slow the spread of the virus.

"The right thing to do would be to not have done a lockdown for the whole country but to have, I think, anyone who's at risk should be quarantined until the storm passes," Musk said on Sway, the New York Times' podcast, last month.

He added that he and his family do not plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if and when a vaccine becomes available, and refused to reveal whether he would pay a worker if they refused to go to work because of COVID-19 fears.

Musk has also referred to the panic during the early stages of the virus as "dumb" and predicted that there would be "close to zero new cases in US ... by end of April."

Update 10/20/20, 10:30 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a response from Google, and to describe Toby Young as an advocate of what he labels "progressive eugenics".