Coronavirus Report

Trump suggests using light, heat as coronavirus treatment

President Trump on Thursday suggested medical experts should study exposing the human body to heat and light as a treatment for the coronavirus during Thursday’s White House briefing by the president’s task force on the virus.

Trump’s remarks followed a presentation from William Bryan, undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security. 

Bryan presented the results of a study that showed the virus deteriorates more quickly when subjected to higher temperatures and humidity — a finding that quickly drew skepticism from other experts on social media and cable television given outbreaks in a number of places with warm climates, such as Singapore and Brazil.

Bryan presented data that found how long the virus can live on solid surfaces or in the air was cut significantly under high temperatures, higher humidity and when exposed to sunlight. He said his office was also studying how certain disinfectants might kill the virus more effectively than others, referencing isopropyl alcohol and bleach.

Trump latched onto the findings, inquiring multiple times about harnessing the light and heat as part of a potential cure.

“So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it,” Trump said. “And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside of the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way. And I think you said you’re going to test that too. Sounds interesting.”

Trump also asked if there was a way to use disinfectants on the body “by injection inside or almost a cleaning.”

Bryan later cautioned that the agency’s findings did not mean that sunlight will kill the virus, nor should going outdoors supersede social distancing guidelines put in place by state and federal leaders.

“It would be irresponsible for us to say that we feel the summer is just going to totally kill the virus … that is not the case,” he said.

But he occasionally sent mixed messages, telling one reporter he would personally opt to hold a family gathering outside rather than inside during the summer and explaining that sunlight could have an effect at getting rid of the virus on playground equipment or other surfaces.

Asked if it was dangerous to give the impression Americans would be safe from the virus going outside, Trump doubled down on his suggestion to use the heat and light as a cure.

“Maybe you can, maybe you can’t … I’m not a doctor. But I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what,” Trump said, pointing to his head.

He then turned to Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, asking if she had ever heard of using “the heat and the light” to combat the coronavirus.

“Not as a treatment,” Birx said. “I mean, certainly … when you have a fever it helps your body respond. But I’ve not seen heat or light.”

“I think it’s a great thing to look at,” Trump said.

The U.S. has more than 873,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, including in a number of warm weather and humid climates, further raising questions about the sunlight’s impact on the disease. New Orleans was one of the country’s first hot spots, while Florida and Georgia have seen increasing cases.

Countries located near the tropics have also dealt with infections.


Tags Coronavirus Donald Trump

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