Trump says he was being 'sarcastic' about injecting coronavirus patients with disinfectant

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office after signing a $484 billion coronavirus relief package into law, President Trump was asked about the idea of injecting coronavirus patients with a disinfectant, something he floated during Thursday’s coronavirus task force briefing.

The president claimed he was being sarcastic.

“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” Trump said.

But Trump’s remarks Thursday were directed at William Bryan, a scientist at the Department of Homeland Security who had just presented research indicating that the virus can be killed on surfaces and in aerosols by heat, humidity, sunlight and disinfectants. And they did not appear to be sarcastic.

“Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light. And I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but we’re going to test it,” Trump said. “And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, either through the skin or some other way.”

The president went on to speculate about the possibility of using disinfectants as a treatment.

President Donald Trump is flanked by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Jovita Carranza as he takes qustions prior to signing the "Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act," approving additional coronavirus disease (COVID-19) relief for the U.S. economy and hospitals treating people sickened by the pandemic, during a signing ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
President Trump is flanked by Sen. Roy Blunt, R.-Mo., and Small Business Administration Administrator Jovita Carranza at a signing ceremony for the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

“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 does a tremendous number on the lungs,” Trump continued. “It would be interesting to check that. That you’re gonna have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me, so we’ll see.”

Trump asked Dr. Deborah Birx, a leader on the White House coronavirus task force, for her opinion on the possible use of ultraviolet light for COVID-19.

“Not as a treatment,” she replied.

There is no approved therapy for COVID-19, and once the virus is inside the cells of the body, it would not be susceptible to being killed by the same things that can destroy it in the environment.

Medical experts took to the airwaves and to Twitter, even as Trump was wrapping up his remarks, to warn that ingesting disinfectants could be fatal.

Earlier Friday, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, issued a statement: “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. Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”


Click here for the latest coronavirus news and updates. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please refer to the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.

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