Doctors warn US president’s musings on disinfectant as a cure for coronavirus could lead to death.
Donald Trump has stunned viewers by suggesting that people could receive injections of disinfectant to cure the coronavirus, a notion one medical expert described as “jaw-dropping”.
At Thursday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, the US president discussed new government research on how the virus reacts to different temperatures, climates and surfaces.
“And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump said. “One minute! And is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.”
Dr Deborah Birx, the task force response coordinator, remained silent. But social media erupted in hilarity and outrage at the president, who has a record of defying science and also floated the idea of treating patients’ bodies with ultraviolet (UV) light.
Several doctors warned the public against injecting disinfectant or using UV light.
Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a former labor secretary, tweeted: “Trump’s briefings are actively endangering the public’s health. Boycott the propaganda. Listen to the experts. And please don’t drink disinfectant.”
Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics, added: “It is incomprehensible to me that a moron like this holds the highest office in the land and that there exist people stupid enough to think this is OK. I can’t believe that in 2020 I have to caution anyone listening to the president that injecting disinfectant could kill you.”
Trump was already facing a backlash over his championing of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a therapy for the coronavirus, a quixotic effort amplified by the conservative network Fox News. Research has found no evidence that it is beneficial and a government vaccine expert has claimed he was fired for limiting its use.
Undeterred, on Thursday Trump showcased an “emerging result” from the Department of Homeland Security research that says coronavirus appears to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight, heat and humidity, raising hopes that it could become less contagious in summer months.
William Bryan, the acting homeland security under secretary for science and technology, testified at the briefing: “Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus, both surfaces and in the air. We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus.”
Researchers found that the virus survives best indoors and in dry conditions, and loses potency when temperatures and humidity rise. Bryan said: “The virus dies quickest in the presence of direct sunlight.”
He showed a slide summarising the results of the experiment that were carried out at National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. He also said tests had been carried out with disinfectants. “I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes. Isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds and that’s with no manipulation, no rubbing.”