On Thursday, during the daily coronavirus press briefing at the White House, President Donald Trump floated an unconventional idea. Per The Hill, the president suggested exposing COVID-19 patients to “tremendous” light and heat.
“So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it,” Trump said, arguing that such a therapy could be done “either through the skin or in some other way.”
“Sounds interesting,” he added.
Trump delivered his remarks following a presentation from William Bryan, undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security. Bryan discussed a study that suggests that high temperatures and humidity can kill off COVID-19.
According to Bryan’s data, the coronavirus disappears quicker when exposed to sunlight and heat. As The Hill notes, public health experts immediately disputed the theory, pointing out that the virus is ravaging countries such as Brazil and Singapore, even though they have tropical climates.
During the press conference, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said that she would not recommend heat and light as treatment. She said that fever helps the human body fight COVID-19, but stressed that she has “not seen” light and heat mentioned.
After Trump’s remarks, Bryan said that the findings he presented do not suggest sunlight or warm weather kills the virus, stressing that it would be “irresponsible” to suggest that COVID-19 will go away once the summer begins.
“It would be irresponsible for us to say that we feel the summer is just going to totally kill the virus… that is not the case,” he said.
Bryan added that Americans should continue to respect social distancing guidelines and avoid mass gathering events.
Trump was then asked whether it was dangerous to suggest that warm weather can destroy the coronavirus. The president did not answer the question directly, seemingly doubling down on his suggestion that both heat and light need to be studied as a potential cure for COVID-19.
“Maybe you can, maybe you can’t… I’m not a doctor,” he said. “But I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what,” he added, pointing to his head.
"I'm the president and you're fake news" — Trump to @PhilipRucker after he asks him if it's responsible to make all sorts of wacky and unproven suggestions about possible coronavirus treatments pic.twitter.com/8ag4izDrGj
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 23, 2020
Trump and his allies have previously touted unproven drugs and various controversial treatments for COVID-19. Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority Rick Bright was reportedly demoted from his position for opposing the administration’s plans.
In a statement, Bright said that he was demoted because he opposes funding hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as treatments for coronavirus. The president has repeatedly promoted the drugs — both commonly used to treat malaria — despite the fact that studies suggest they are ineffective.