President Donald Trump claimed on Friday that his comments about injecting patients with disinfectants to battle the COVID-19 virus were sarcastic in nature.
After Trump asked, during Thursday’s White House coronavirus press conference, whether it was possible to inject UV light or disinfectant into patients — later clarifying his remarks to specify that “it wouldn’t be through injections — his questions were met by critics with shock, outrage, and horror, as NBC News reports.
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters just like you, just to see what would happen,” Trump said. “I was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and it would kill it on the hands, and it would make things much better.”
However, as NBC News notes, Trump’s comments did not appear to be sarcasm, and much of his curiosity about the possibility of injecting people with disinfectants was aimed at William Bryan, a homeland security official who was discussing how certain chemicals, along with sunlight, can kill the novel coronavirus.
On Thursday, after Bryan presented his findings on the impact of UV light and cleaning chemicals on the virus, Trump stepped up to the podium and began weighing the idea of having scientists look into the idea of somehow injecting UV rays into the human body. At one point, he suggested that his team was exploring the concept, then pivoting to discuss disinfectants.
“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning,” he said during the press conference.
“So it would be interesting to check that,” he added.
He also turned to Dr. Deborah Birx and asked whether light is being looked into as a way to combat the virus in humans. She responded that it isn’t being considered as a treatment. Trump interrupted that he thought it was a “great thing” for doctors to investigate.
Later in the press conference, Trump was asked to clarify his comments, and the president did so.
“It wouldn’t be through injections, almost a cleaning and sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work, but it certainly has a big effect if it’s on a stationary object.”
When a reporter from The Washington Post asked the president if he should be stating unproven rumors of that nature rather than offering facts and guidance, he responded that he was the president and the reporter was “fake news.” Trump then added that it was his job to provide ideas.
Trump’s comments were met with immediate backlash from some doctors who urged people not to use isopropyl alcohol or bleach as a treatment for the disease inside the human body. Household cleaner manufacturer Lysol warned people not to ingest their products.
Earlier in the day, the White House press secretary tried to downplay Trump’s comments, saying that the media was taking them out of context and that the president advised people to discuss treatments with their doctor.