Previously, President Donald Trump touted the use of hydroxychloroquine to potentially cure those infected with COVID-19. Now that recent studies have shown that the drug doesn’t help coronavirus patients and might actually cause more deaths, Trump on Thursday turned to another idea.
During his daily press briefing, Trump wondered aloud if injecting disinfectant, the kind you’d use to clean the surface of your home, into your body would help ward off the virus.
After a presentation from William Bryan, the acting undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security’s science and technology division, described how heat and humidity could help mitigate the coronavirus and how bleach can kill it on household surfaces in five minutes with isopropyl alcohol doing the job in 30 seconds, Trump took over the briefing. The president said, “I see the disinfectant that 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? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
That comment drew almost immediate pushback from alarmed doctors and scientists.
“My concern is that people will die. People will think this is a good idea,” Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told the Washington Post. “This is not willy-nilly, off-the-cuff, maybe-this-will-work advice. This is dangerous.”
Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert, responded by telling NBC News, “This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous. It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.”
Even Lysol, a leading disinfectant manufacturer, jumped into the conversation, saying in a statement, “As a global leader in health and hygiene products, 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). As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines.”
Bryan also discussed the possibility that sunlight and warmer temperatures could help kill the virus, though experts have previously said they don’t expect the virus to simply die off during the summer.
Trump then said, “So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous—whether it’s ultraviolet or just a very powerful light—and I think you said that hasn’t been checked because of the testing. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that, too.”
When Trump asked Dr. Deborah Birx, who’s on the White House’s coronavirus task force, about the possibility of using light, she said, “Not as a treatment.”