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Trump's musings on coronavirus disinfectants spark outcry

President Donald Trump at the White House in

President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

Will the coronavirus pandemic end during the heat and humidity of summer? Research hasn't settled the question, experts say.

And never, they say, rely on sunlight, let alone inject bleach, which can be deadly. 

Those questions arose from suggestions by President Donald Trump at a White House briefing Thursday after hearing a senior official at Homeland Security’s Science and Technology arm cite preliminary findings showing the virus couldn't long survive sunlight, warmth and humidity.

Early analyses suggesting the virus would die off in summer clash with rising outbreaks seen in southern U.S. states, such as Florida, now experiencing early heat waves. 

While Trump suggested possibly using light internally, experts noted the ultraviolet light that hospitals use for disinfecting is far too powerful for humans, and can cause cancer and cataracts.

While Trump also suggested injecting disinfectants, experts warned that injecting, inhaling or swallowing bleach can kill. 

“Cleaning products are poisonous, America! Make sure you keep those cleaning products in their original bottles and locked up out of sight and out of reach of kids!” the Consumer Product Safety Commission tweeted and attributed it to its mascot, Quinn the Quarantine Fox.

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Trump suggested the controversial therapies at the podium Thursday after a presentation from William Bryan, acting head of Homeland Security’s science and technology division, who outlined research suggesting the coronavirus was weakened when exposed to strong sunlight and disinfectant.

Bryan said, “Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus — both surfaces and in the air. We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus.”

On Friday, Homeland Security’s science and technology office issued a fact sheet on coronavirus transmission. It also said in a statement that it "continues to study the impacts of environmental conditions" on the virus.

The White House accused the media of mischaracterizing Trump’s comments, and Trump said he had been speaking sarcastically. 

But Trump’s comments on disinfectants also prompted the parent company of Lysol to issue a warning.

“As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),” said the statement from Reckitt Benckiser.

With AP

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