Health experts in the USA are reeling from a shock that they received from US President Donald Trump's latest press conference, where he suggested the possibility of an "injection" of disinfectant into a person infected with the coronavirus as a deterrent to the disease on Thursday.
Trump’s bizarre suggestion came after he learned about the effects of sunlight and household disinfectants on the novel coronavirus.
Bill Bryan, who leads the Department of Homeland Security's science and technology division, gave a presentation on research his team has conducted that shows that warmer and humid temperature cuts half the life of the coronavirus. Bryan said, "The virus dies quickest in sunlight".
As a result of Bryan’s research, Trump wondered whether people could bring the light "inside the body,” and suggested that experts should find a way to inject light and disinfectants into human bodies to kill the virus.
"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," Trump said, speaking to Bryan during the briefing.
"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," the POTUS added, even though he didn't specify the kind of disinfectant to substantiate his claim.
Trump, who has consistently looked for hopeful news about containing the virus, was asked if it was dangerous to make people think they would be safe by going outside in the heat, considering that so many people have died in Florida.
“I hope people enjoy the sun. And if it has an impact, that’s great,” Trump replied, adding, “It’s just a suggestion from a brilliant lab by a very, very smart, perhaps brilliant man.”
“I’m here to present ideas, because we want ideas to get rid of this thing. And if heat is good, and if sunlight is good, that’s a great thing as far as I’m concerned,” the president said.
Further, Trump said that the virus “does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
However, Bryan said there was no consideration of that.
The president has often talked up prospects for new therapies and offered rosy timelines for the development of a vaccine.
Medical professionals were quick to denounce President Trump's "improper health messaging."
“Everything that this scientist talked about from homeland security was basically incoherent, nonsensical, not really supported by evidence and really quite contrary to a lot of things that we do know about some of the things he was saying,” Dr Irwin Redlener, the director of the Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told the MSNBC network.
Redlener also rubbished Bryan’s presentation saying, “First of all, people do get Covid, have been getting Covid in warm climates, including New Orleans but also other countries that have a warm climate right now. Second of all, this issue with UV light is hypothetical but also UV light can be very harmful and we did not hear anything resembling a balanced discussion of what the evidence is for and against UV light, but it’s certainly not ready for prime time.”
He added, “The very fact that the president actually asked somebody about what sounded like injecting disinfectants or isopropyl alcohol into the human body was kind of jaw-dropping.”