Amid a flurry of backlash and ridicule, President Trump walked back his suggestion that scientists test whether disinfectants, such as
bleach, could be injected inside the human body to fight the coronavirus, claiming Friday that he had said it sarcastically.
The president offered his idea for a cure in the White House briefing room Thursday after a presentation that mentioned that
disinfectants can kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces and in the air.
“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.”
There was no indication when he made the initial remarks that they were not a real recommendation.
“My concern is that people will die. People will think this is a good idea,” Craig Spencer, the 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.
In a statement Friday, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany did not say the president had been joking, but rather she
defended that Trump had said Americans should consult with their doctors about treatment. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams
released a statement reiterating that advice on Friday morning.
McEnany accused the media of taking Trump’s words out of context.
“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point
that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,” she said.
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
measures that carry significant economic ramifications. The study Bryan presented Thursday appeared to support those claims to
some degree, although its results have not been peer-reviewed.