Medical experts have hit out at US President Donald Trump after he floated the idea of injecting disinfectant into the body to fight COVID-19.
Trump, already under fire for his coronavirus response, also appeared to suggest using ultraviolet (UV) light “inside the body”.
His comments, which came on the day the US death toll from COVID-19 passed 50,000 people, sparked a backlash online.
Doctors and scientists were quick to discredit the suggestions and warned injecting disinfectant into people could be fatal.
What was the context of Trump’s comments?
They came at his latest coronavirus press briefing after an official had presented preliminary research on the effects of heat humidity and sunlight.
He said the research suggests the virus’ life span is heavily reduced on surfaces when it is exposed to heat, humidity or UV light.
He also said it concludes that bleach can kill the virus in five minutes and that 90 per cent alcohol solutions can do this in 30 seconds.
This is how Trump responded.
“So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light,” he said.
“And I think you said that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, suppose you brought the light inside the body, you can, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way.”
The US president then went on to address disinfectants.
“Knocks it out in a minute,” he said. “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 it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”
Trump 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.
“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.
Donald Trump’s other coronavirus claims
Throughout the crisis, Trump has tried to find solutions to stop the spread of the virus or treat patients.
He has previously suggested using hydroxychloroquine as medication against COVID-19 based on preliminary results of two very limited studies in France and China. His scientific advisers later discredited the use of the medication.
This was the first time, however, that he’d suggested hot weather could have an effect on the spread of the virus.
“There’s been a rumour that you know, a very nice rumour, that you go outside in the sun or you have heat and it does have an effect on other viruses”.
He then turned to Deborah Birx, one of his advisers on the pandemic, and asked for confirmation on this “Deborah, have you ever heard of that? The heat and the light relative to certain viruses, but relative to this virus?”
Looking uncomfortable, she replied: “Not as a treatment. I mean certainly fever, it is a good thing when you have a fever, it helps your body respond.”
And this isn’t the first time experts working with the president have denied his claims publicly.
Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, recently contradicted the president saying he was “convinced” that the virus would come back in the autumn just after Trump had claimed the virus “may not come back at all”.
And the contradictions go both ways. Dr Fauci told Time magazine this week that the United States was “not in a situation where we can say we are exactly where we want to be with regard to testing.”
And when asked about the doctor’s comments during Thursday’s press conference Trump said/ “We’re very advanced in testing. Other countries are calling us to find out what are we doing.”
“I think we’re doing a great job on testing,” he added. “I don’t agree if he said that.”
‘Pinning your hopes on summer is a pipe dream’
Many scientists and health experts have made clear that there is no evidence that warmer weather or higher humidity can help stop the spread of the virus.
Global health expert Alanna Shaikh told Euronews on Tuesday that the fact the virus had spread to Singapore put that theory into question.
“We’ve seen plenty of outbreaks in places that are already warm,” she added. “So I think pinning your hopes on summer is a little bit of a pipe dream.”
Dr Fiachra Humphries, an immunologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, said that COVID-19 is a “much more transmissible virus than other seasonal ones and a lot of studies have shown that this virus can survive on surfaces a lot longer. So it’s probably less susceptible to things like heat”.