After President Donald Trump made controversial comments on Thursday about possibly treating COVID-19 patients with injections of disinfectant, the far-right syndicated news commentary website Breitbart conducted its own fact check, claiming that the president did not propose disinfectant injection.
Breitbart claimed that “President Trump is being quoted out of context — as usual — by left-wingers on social media.”
The news commentary website continued to interpret Trump’s comments, and wrote, “Trump used the word ‘inject,’ but what he meant was using a process — which he left 'medical doctors' to define — in which patients’ lungs might be cleared of the virus, given new knowledge about its response to light and other factors.”
Breitbart referred to a government research described by Dr. Bill Bryant, head of the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, which showed that coronavirus did not survive long in solar light, higher temperatures and a more humid environment. Bryant mentioned that disinfectants had been effective against the virus.
According to Breitbart, Trump’s suggestion about household cleaners is a reference to the study, and about how to “bring light inside the body (of the patient).”
However, The Washington Post pointed to a different reality about the Thursday press briefing.
Although Trump responded on Friday that he replied to the question about disinfectant “sarcastically,” there was “no indication when he made the initial remarks that they were not a real recommendation,” the Post said.
The Post further pointed out that the study that Bryant brought up, while backing up the president’s claims about sunlight and temperature to some degree, has not had its results peer-reviewed.
Dr. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, was asked by Trump to answer if light or heat could be a potential treatment for COVID-19.
“Not a treatment,” Birx said, “I mean, I mean, certainly fever is a good thing. When you have a fever, it helps your body respond.” Her answer was cut short by the president.
Doctors have been concerned with Trump’s controversial and misleading comment, fearing the consequences of patients believing his words.
“People will do extraordinary things if you give them the idea,” Dara Kass told the Post. Kass is an associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.
“The difference between this and the chloroquine is that somebody could go right away to their pantry and start swallowing bleach. They could go to their medicine cabinet and swallow isopropyl alcohol,” Kass said. “A lot of people have that in their homes. There’s an immediate opportunity to react.”