After a presentation Thursday that touched on the disinfectants that can kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces and in the air, President Trump pondered whether those chemicals could be used to fight the virus inside the human body.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
The question, which Trump offered unprompted, immediately spurred doctors to respond with incredulity and warnings against injecting or otherwise ingesting disinfectants, which are highly toxic.
“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.”
Trump’s eyebrow-raising query came immediately after William N. Bryan, the acting undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, gave a presentation on the potential impact of summer heat and humidity, which also included references to tests that showed the effectiveness of different types of disinfectants. He recounted data from recent tests that showed how bleach, alcohol and sunlight could kill the coronavirus on surfaces.
Bryan said bleach killed the virus in about five minutes and isopropyl alcohol killed it in 30 seconds. In tests, sunlight and high temperatures also appeared to shorten the virus’s life on surfaces and in the air, Bryan said.
Trump has previously claimed that the arrival of summer weather will help fight the coronavirus outbreak without resorting to aggressive social distancing measures that carry significant economic ramifications. The study Bryan presented Thursday appeared to back those claims to some degree, although its results have not been peer-reviewed.
As Bryan left the podium without answering reporters’ questions, Trump stepped up to the mic. Before he allowed anyone to ask a question, the president offered an answer to a “question that, probably, some of you are thinking of if you are totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting.”