During a White House coronavirus briefing, President Trump was presented with government-led research which indicated that the deadly coronavirus was weakened when confronted with intense sunlight, heat and disinfectant.
The US President had asked William Bryan, Head of Science and Technology for DHS, to study UV light’s effect on coronavirus.
Trump supposed that if the body was exposed to a ‘tremendous […] very powerful light’ that the virus would be weakened. He turned to Dr Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, to confirm that these findings would be tested on the human body.
Trump continued to discuss government-led research which found that disinfectant could work to weaken, or even kill the virus, preventing it from being spread. Trump then asked ‘Is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?’
Trump’s suggestion that disinfectants such as bleach should be used as a treatment to kill coronavirus has sparked uproar amongst doctors and other health professionals. Medical professionals quickly denounced Trump’s suggestion that disinfectant could be used to eliminate Covid-19 from the human body.
Viruses can be killed when exposed to disinfectant, but only on surfaces. Health professionals have warned the public that injecting disinfectant can lead to severe health problems, poisoning and death. There is no guarantee that injecting disinfectants, such as bleach or chlorine, would be an effective way to kill the virus.
Harvard Toxicology tweeted in response to Trump; they said: “Please don’t inject bleach or drink disinfectant. Bleach injections cause hemolysis (where your red blood cells that carry Oxygen break apart) and cause liver damage, and many disinfectants can cause dangerous burns or bleeding in your stomach.” They ended the tweet stating: “this tweet is medical advice”.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have also issued a warning to Americans about their use of cleaning products, particularly as sales of household cleaning supplies and disinfectants have risen dramatically during the pandemic.
Disinfectant manufacturers such as Reckitt Benckiser have also released several statements advising people to not inject their products after Trump’s suggestion that it might help to kill coronavirus.
Journalists at the coronavirus briefing also called into question the implication that going outside and being exposed to light would help treat Covid-19, considering that so many people are dying in Florida, to which Trump rebuked and said: “I hope people enjoy the sun”, but also said during the briefing “I’m not a doctor, but I’m a person that has a good you know what [gesturing to his brain].”
Trump has since commented on his ‘disinfectant theory’, stating: “I was asking a sarcastic, and a very sarcastic question, to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it.”
Trump has previously commented on medical treatment for coronavirus, and once stated that malaria treatment could cure coronavirus. Trump has openly stated that the treatment is a “game-changer”, however, this drug, much like the use of disinfectant, could lead to higher death rates and has been proven to not work against Covid-19.
Trump’s claim that his suggestion to use disinfectants to treat coronavirus inside the body was sarcastic has been met with a large amount of backlash, with many people left questioning Trump’s ability to be the US president and lead the country through this global pandemic.