Poll: Americans Believe Social Distancing Is Effective, Reject Disinfectant As Potential Coronavirus Treatment

Social distancing sign at the London Luton Airport.
Richard Heathcote / Getty Images

A new poll from The Economist and YouGov released on Thursday sheds light on how the American public feels about various potential treatments for the novel coronavirus.

During a recent press conference, President Donald Trump appeared to suggest that injecting disinfectants could help treat the dangerous virus.

“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.

The president later clarified his remarks, saying his comments were not meant to be taken seriously.

The vast majority of Americans rejects injecting disinfectant in the body as a potential treatment for COVID-19. According to the poll, of those who have heard of the suggestion, 85 percent believe it would be both ineffective and dangerous to inject or ingest such chemicals, and only 8 percent believe it could be effective. Notably, Republicans who are familiar with the suggestion are twice as likely as Democrats to think it could be a good way to treat COVID-19.

Trump has also touted the drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“I’m not looking at it one way or another. But we want to get out of this. If it does work, it would be a shame if we didn’t do it early,” the president said in early April.

Used to treat malaria, the drug could be an effective COVID-19 treatment, the president and his allies have argued. On this issue, the American public is split along partisan lines. Most Republicans believe hydroxychloroquine could be effective, while Democrats believe it is both ineffective and dangerous.

Furthermore, even though they reject some of Trump’s suggestions, about two-thirds of Republicans — 66 percent of them — trust his medical advice. When it comes to public health issues, Republicans trust Trump over Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

On some issues, Americans are in agreement. The vast majority believes social distancing measures are a good way to combat the coronavirus pandemic. According to the poll, 53 percent of Americans believe social distancing is very effective and 30 percent believe it is possibly effective.

Sixty-seven percent of those who identify as Democrats think social distancing is very effective at treating COVID-19 and 23 percent believe it is possibly effective. The support for such procedures is high among Republicans as well, 44 percent of whom believe such measures are very effective, while 36 percent believe they are possibly effective.

When it comes to independent voters, 52 percent believe social distancing is very effective and 30 percent think it is possibly effective.