Australia

Donald Trump bizarrely suggests coronavirus could be treated with disinfectant injections

Donald Trump participates in a news conference at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 23 April 2020. Source: ABACA

Donald Trump has suggested disinfectant injections or doses of 'very powerful light' could help treat patients infected with coronavirus.

United States President Donald Trump has suggested medical authorities look into whether injecting disinfectant into people’s lungs and exposing them to “very powerful light” could cure coronavirus. 

The comments came after a top US official told the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House that early research was indicating the coronavirus dies faster in warm and humid weather than in cold and drier conditions. 

“Increasing the temperature and humidity … is generally less favourable to the virus,” Department of Homeland Security spokesman William Bryan said.

Mr Bryan said common disinfectants and bleaches were also extremely effective in killing the virus.

President Donald Trump (R) listens to Bill Bryan, head of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security (R)
US President Donald Trump (R) listens to Bill Bryan, head of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security (R)
AP

After Mr Bryan’s briefing, Mr Trump took to the podium to add his thoughts. 

“Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light ... and then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re gonna test that,” Mr Trump said, gesturing towards Mr Bryan. 

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“And then I see disinfectant, where it knocks [coronavirus] out in a minute and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning. It gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.

“So, it’d be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds interesting to me.”

Shortly afterwards, Mr Trump hit out at a reporter who suggested he was spreading “rumours”.

“People tuning into these briefings, they want to get information and guidance and want to know what to do. They’re not looking for rumours,” the reporter said.

Mr Trump replied by dismissing the reporter as "fake news". 

“It’s just a suggestion … I’m here to present talent, to present ideas. We want ideas to get rid of this thing," he said. 

Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy was asked about Mr Trump’s comments in Canberra a few hours later.

“I would caution against the injection of disinfection,” he said, laughing. “They can be toxic to people.”

“[With] ultraviolent light, I don’t know the context of which he said it, so I would need to study it before I could comment.”

Earlier this week the head of the US agency in charge of developing a vaccine against coronavirus said he was removed from his job for questioning chloroquine, a drug endorsed by Mr Trump that is yet to undergo thorough vetting.

Dr Rick Bright said he was removed on Tuesday as director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the government agency for developing and procuring treatments and vaccines, and moved to a lesser position in the National Institutes of Health.

Since mid-March Mr Trump has advocated for the use of chloroquine to treat COVID-19 infections, with scant evidence from studies of its safety or effectiveness.

The US, the worst-hit country in the world, now has more than 840,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.

The House of Representatives voted Thursday to add another nearly half-trillion US dollars to efforts to stimulate an economy ravaged by the coronavirus shutdown.

The funds will be used to support small businesses, finance hospitals and expand COVID-19 testing.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others and gatherings are limited to two people unless you are with your family or household.

If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor (don’t visit) or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. If you are struggling to breathe or experiencing a medical emergency, call 000.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus.

Additional reporting by AFP.

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