President Donald Trump suggested the possibility of an "injection" of disinfectant into a person infected with the coronavirus as a deterrent to the virus during his daily briefing Thursday.
Trump made the remark after Bill Bryan, who leads the Department of Homeland Security's science and technology division, gave a presentation on research his team has conducted that shows that the virus doesn't live as long in warmer and more humid temperatures. Bryan said, "The virus dies quickest in sunlight," leaving Trump to wonder whether you could bring the light "inside the body."
"So supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it's ultraviolet or just a very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn't been checked because of the testing," Trump said, speaking to Bryan during the briefing. "And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or some other way, and I think you said you're going to test that, too."
He added: "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? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that."
He didn't specify the kind of disinfectant.
Medical professionals, including Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist, global health policy expert and an NBC News and MSNBC contributor. were quick to challenge the president's "improper health messaging."
“This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous," said Gupta. "It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves."
The maker of Lysol also issued a statement warning against any internal use of the cleaning product.
The president has repeatedly touted unproven treatments during the daily briefings on COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus. For instance, he has touted hydroxychloroquine as a potential "game changer," but health officials have strongly cautioned against it.
An Arizona man died in late March after having ingested chloroquine phosphate — believing it would protect him from becoming infected with the coronavirus. The man's wife told NBC News that she had watched televised briefings during which Trump talked about the potential benefits of chloroquine.
Dr. Rick Bright, a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services, says he was ousted from his job this week for pushing back on demands that he sign off on chloroquine treatments.
Bryan, under questioning from reporters, said later that federal laboratories aren't considering such a treatment option. He added that heat and humidity alone wouldn't kill the virus if people don't continue to practice social distancing.
Download the NBC News app for full coverage and alerts about the coronavirus outbreak
Asked later to clarify, Bryan said that isn't the kind of work he does in his lab, before Trump jumped in and added, "Maybe it works. Maybe it doesn't work."
When discussing the possibility that heat could kill the virus, the president turned to Dr. Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House coronavirus response, who was seated to the side, and asked whether she had ever heard about heat's killing the virus in humans.
She said she hadn't heard of it "as a treatment" but added that having a fever is what the body does to kill a virus.
The White House claimed Friday morning that the media was mischaracterizing Trump's comments regarding coronavirus treatment.
"President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. "Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines."