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Experts criticise Trump suggestion about disinfectant as Covid-19 treatment

Ingesting disinfectant is not a treatment against coronavirus.

Donald Trump at the White House briefing yesterday.
Donald Trump at the White House briefing yesterday.
Image: Michael Reynolds/PA

DONALD TRUMP HAS suggested that disinfectant could be injected into the body as a treatment against Covid-19 – a suggestion not backed by any medical evidence. 

During yesterday’s White House briefing, Trump noted that the researchers were  looking at the effects of disinfectants on the virus and wondered aloud if they could be injected into people, saying the virus “does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that”.

William Bryan of the Department of Homeland Security said that it was not being considered. 

Ingesting disinfectant or cleaning products is highly dangerous and in some cases can prove fatal. The suggestion has already been attacked by medical professionals. 

During the same briefing, the White House also pitched “emerging” research on the benefits of sunlight and humidity in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Past studies have not found good evidence that the warmer temperatures and higher humidity of spring and summer will help diminish the spread of the virus.

But Bryan said that there are “emerging results” from new research that suggest solar light has a powerful effect in killing the virus on surfaces and in the air.

He said scientists have seen a similar effect from higher temperatures and humidity.

“The virus is dying at a much more rapid pace just from exposure to higher temperatures and just from exposure to humidity,” Bryan said.

However he stressed that the emerging results of the light and heat studies do not replace social distancing recommendations.

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”, the president 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.”

Researchers convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine analysed studies done so far to test virus survival under different laboratory conditions as well as tracking where and how Covid-19 has spread so far.

“Given that countries currently in ‘summer’ climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed,” the researchers wrote in April.

They noted that during 10 previous flu pandemics, regardless of what season they started, all had a peak second wave about six months after the virus first emerged.

Relief

Trump will be holding a signing ceremony on Friday for the US government’s new $500 billion coronavirus relief bill.

The package, which was passed on Thursday, will bring relief to employers and hospitals buckling under the strain of a pandemic that has claimed almost 50,000 American lives and one in six US jobs.

Anchoring the bill is $250 billion to replenish a fund to help small and medium-size businesses with payroll, rent and other expenses.

The payroll program provides forgivable loans so businesses can continue paying workers while forced to stay closed for social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

It also contains $100 billion for hospitals and a nationwide testing program, along with $60 billion set-aside for small banks that focus on development in urban neighbourhoods and rural areas ignored by many lenders.

There’s also $60 billion for small-business loans and grants delivered through the Small Business Administration’s existing disaster aid program.

“At a time when many Americans are enduring significant economic challenges, this bill will help small businesses to keep millions of workers on the payroll,” Trump said.

With reporting from Dominic McGrath

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