President Trump on Friday said he was being “sarcastic” during the previous day’s press conference when he expressed interest in exploring whether light, heat and disinfectants could be potential treatments for coronavirus patients.
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office as he signed the fourth coronavirus aid package passed by Congress.
“I was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and it would kill it on the hands, and it would make things much better,” he added.
During a White House press briefing on Thursday, Trump mused about whether exposing people infected with the coronavirus to a “tremendous” ultraviolet or “very powerful” light could be effective in fighting the virus.
“I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it,” Trump said, turning in the direction of Dr. Deborah Birx, the administration’s coronavirus response coordinator. “Supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting.”
“Not as a treatment,” Birx responded when Trump asked her whether she had heard of treatments involving light or heat. “Certainly fever is a good thing, when you have a fever, it helps your body respond. But I have not seen heat or light…”
The president also wondered aloud whether disinfectant, which he said “knocks it out in a minute” could be used “by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”
“It would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds interesting to me,” he said.
The president’s remarks arose from a report by William Bryan, the Department of Homeland Security’s undersecretary for science and technology, whose preliminary findings showed that the coronavirus deteriorates in high temperatures and humidity. Bryan said his office is also examining the effect of disinfectants such as isopropyl alcohol and bleach on the virus.
Trump’s comments sparked swift backlash from medical professionals and disinfectant makers, who pleaded with Americans not to inject themselves with household disinfectants.
The White House emphasized in a statement that Americans should consult with doctors before attempting to treat for the coronavirus.
“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,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said.
More from National Review