Doctors warn US presidents musings on disinfectant as a cure for coronavirus could lead to death
Donald Trump has stunned viewers by suggesting people could receive injections of disinfectant to cure the coronavirus, a notion one medical expert described as jaw-dropping.
At Thursdays White House coronavirus taskforce briefing, the US president mused on new government research into how the virus reacts to different temperatures, climates and surfaces.
Trump said: And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute! And is there a way we can do something like that, by 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 would be interesting to check that. So, that, youre going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds interesting to me.
Dr Deborah Birx, the taskforce response coordinator, remained silent. But social media erupted in 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 and a leading household cleaner manufacturer urged users not to inject it into their bodies.
Reckitt Benckiser, the British-based maker of Dettol and Lysol, said in a statement: We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).
Political commentators joined the condemnation. Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a former labor secretary, tweeted: Trumps briefings are actively endangering the publics health. Boycott the propaganda. Listen to the experts. And please dont 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 cant 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 Department of Homeland Security research that indicates coronavirus appears to weaken more quickly when exposed to sunlight, heat and humidity, raising hopes that it could become less contagious in summer months.
Bill Bryan, the acting homeland security undersecretary for science and technology, said 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. Weve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favourable 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 the quickest in the presence of direct sunlight under these conditions.
He showed a slide summarising the results of the experiment that were carried out at the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. He also said tests had been carried out with disinfectants and isopropyl alcohol, specifically in saliva or in respiratory fluids.
And I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes; isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds, and thats with no manipulation, no rubbing just spraying it on and letting it go. You rub it and it goes away even faster. Were also looking at other disinfectants, specifically looking at the Covid-19 virus in saliva.