Amid a flurry of backlash and ridicule, President Trump walked back his suggestion that scientists test whether disinfectants, such as bleach, could be injected inside the human body to fight the coronavirus, claiming Friday that he had said it sarcastically.
The president offered his idea for a cure in the White House briefing room Thursday after a presentation that mentioned disinfectants can kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces and in the air.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
The question, which Trump offered unprompted, immediately spurred doctors, lawmakers and the makers of Lysol to respond with incredulity and warnings against injecting or otherwise ingesting disinfectants, which are highly toxic.
When asked Friday during a bill signing in the Oval Office to expand upon this, Trump said it was not intended as a serious suggestion.
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” Trump said.
There was no indication when he made the initial remarks that they were not a real recommendation.
“My concern is that people will die. People will think this is a good idea,” Craig Spencer, the director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told The Washington Post.
“This is not willy-nilly, off-the-cuff, maybe-this-will-work advice. This is dangerous.”