Sunlight and bleach can both kill the novel coronavirus, a federal official told the daily White House briefing on Thursday. But US President Donald Trump turned what should have been a simple scientific summary into a puzzling stream of dangerous ideas about somehow streaming light into the body and suggestions about injecting disinfectants.
Here's what was said: Bill Bryan, a senior official at the US Department of Homeland Security, said studies on the virus showed bleach kills coronavirus in about five minutes, and isopropyl alcohol destroys it even faster.
He also said the virus dies quickest under direct sunlight, and that temperature and humidity affect how long the virus survives.
This was Trump's take:
"Suppose that we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light and I think you said that it hasn't been checked and you're going to test it," Trump told Bryan. "Suppose you can bring the light inside the body."
It was not immediately clear how Trump would propose bringing light into the body.
"And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in one minute. Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning ... it would be interesting to check that," Trump added.
Scientists were horrified by his claims. Multiple experts warned after Trump's briefing that nobody should ingest disinfectant, and that it simply doesn't work.
The World Health Organization says on its website that exposing yourself to the sun or high temperatures does not prevent Covid-19, and warns specifically against using ultraviolet lamps, including tanning lamps, to try to kill virus.
"UV lamps should not be used to sterilize hands or other areas of skin as UV radiation can cause skin irritation," the WHO cautions.
Too much UV light damage can lead to skin cancer.
And chlorine bleach is toxic: it can and does kill people who drink it. The US Food and Drug Administration regularly warns the public against drinking bleach, or even inhaling fumes from bleach. It's also irritating to skin.
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