After learning about the effects of sunlight and household disinfectants on the novel coronavirus, President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that experts should find a way to inject light and disinfectants into human bodies to kill the virus.
"Supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you could do either through the skin or in some other way," Trump said during the daily White House coronavirus task force briefing. "The whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute. That's, uh, that's pretty powerful."
Trump made the comments after William Bryan, acting undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, gave a presentation on the impacts of solar light, bleach, and isopropyl alcohol on the virus on surfaces and in the air.
"Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus both surfaces and in the air," Bryan said. "Bleach will kill the virus in five minutes. Isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds. ... You rub it and it goes away faster."
Trump then suggested scientists could find some way to "hit the body" with ultraviolet or "just very powerful" light and also see if they could inject the body with disinfectants to get rid of the virus.
"I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute," he said. "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, so it’d be interesting to check that."
But health organizations at large agree: Do not do this. The World Health Organization says that UV lamps or lights should not be used to sterilize people's hands or other parts of the body; they can cause skin irritation, and spraying alcohol or chlorine on your body can be harmful.
Depending on the ingredients, household cleaners can potentially be highly poisonous to humans if ingested, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Bleach can also irritate the skin, eyes, nose, and throat and cause irritation and injury to organs if ingested.
This isn't the first time Trump has suggested a possible treatment for COVID-19 without the backing of health officials.
In March, he touted the use of chloroquine, which has been used to treat malaria for decades, as a possible remedy for the disease. Experts have raised a slew of cautions about widespread prescription of the medication, citing a lack of evidence showing its effects, side effects, and other issues.
When a reporter asked Bryan if there was any scenario in which a household disinfectant could be injected into a person, he said "no," adding that he was there to talk about his team's findings.
"We don't do that within that lab, at our labs," he said.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, said she had never heard of using heat or light as a treatment to kill viruses inside a person's body.
"I mean, certainly fever is a good thing," Birx said. "When you have a fever it helps your body respond. But not as— I've not seen heat or light."
In a statement to reporters on Friday morning, new White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany accused the media of falsely reporting the president's comments.
She said the president wanted people to consult medical experts before beginning any treatments — something she said also applied to what he mentioned on Thursday.
"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," she said. "Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”