President Trump brought up an unnamed “disinfectant” as a treatment for COVID-19. Bill Bryan (L) … [+] stated his lab was not working on such a treatment. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Trump continues to dispense unsolicited and incorrect medical information. At a press conference on April 23rd, President Trump said of treating COVID-19, “Supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through skin or some other way.” He then said, “I see the disinfectant that 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?” Trump didn’t name this “disinfectant,” and his comments have no scientific basis. Bill Bryan, head of the Department of Homeland Security’s science and technology division, who spoke at the press conference, stated that his laboratory isn’t conducting studies on such a “disinfectant.”
Trump continues his false narrative that SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t survive in warm temperatures. This including his statement, “Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it will miraculously go away.” Now he is moving from speaking about environmental heat killing COVID-19, as his “prediction” hasn’t quite worked out, to now saying that internal heat from an applied source might work. Again, there no scientific evidence supporting this.
On April 7th, the Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats at the National Academy of Sciences issued a letter and report to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy stating that there are a lack of studies showing that heat kills SARS-CoV-2. The committee also stated that a lack of immunity in the general population to SARS-CoV-2 means that virus survival at elevated temperatures is a moot point. If people don’t practice social distancing, heat and humidity won’t make any impact on transmission. Deborah Birx MD confirmed that there is no evidence that environmental temperature kills the virus in people.
Trump is assuming a role as a medical expert without any credentials to do so. Trump continues to push a narrative of COVID-19 treatment without scientific validity or adequate research.
It appears that Trump has pivoted from his focus on hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) as a treatment for COVID-19. This may be due to Trump wanting to take the focus off the fact that it is alleged that he removed the head of a SARS-CoV-2 governmental department because he disagreed with Trump’s touting of unproven COVID-19 treatments like HCQ. Rick Bright MD stated that Trump allegedly pushed HCQ as a treatment for COVID-19 after he spoke about it with Larry Ellison, the chairman of technology company Oracle. Dr. Bright stated that he was told to start a national program at expanding access to HCQ without proper research, with the White House using Oracle’s software to promote unproven treatments.
Dr. Bright stated that he believes he was removed as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, because he stated that monies allocated to fight the pandemic should be directed towards “safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.” Bright also stated, “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science — not politics or cronyism — has to lead the way.” The role of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority is to help develop a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2.
By assuming a role as a de facto medical expert, Trump is spreading false information to the public. There has already been a shortage of HCQ when Trump was touting it as a COVID-19 treatment. And now there is more information as to why he was promoting HCQ without solid scientific evidence, as seen by his connection to Oracle’s Ellison.
There have been deaths from people ingesting chloroquine. People are scared, and Trump giving false hope to the public is dangerous and misleading. By bringing up “possible” treatments, he is also helping to promote his idea of lifting stay-at-home restrictions in states. This is evidenced by his tweets seemingly promoting insurrections in states where there is a Democrat governor, such as Michigan, Virginia, and Minnesota.
We are far from finding a scientifically-proven treatment for COVID-19, and a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 is still at least eighteen months away. Social distancing and stay-at-home orders are still the best way to potentially decrease the overload on hospitals and decrease the death rate. Trump is not a medical professional, no matter how much narcissism leads him to believe he is an expert in all things. But bringing up random treatments does provide a distraction from his other failings, and gaslighting the public may be part of the point.