Don't Believe the Blue Checks: Here's the Context to Trump's Comments About UV Light and "Injecting" Disinfectant

AP featured image
President Donald Trump arrives to speak at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, Sunday, April 19, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Twitter blue checks were high on their own supply after President Donald Trump made mention of a few solutions that have been killing the COVID-19 virus. If you play the clip by itself, it does seem like something completely wacky to say.

“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. “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.”

“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.”

However, as journalists today have a bad habit of doing, they reported on the 56 second soundbyte without giving you the whole story.

At the very same press briefing where Trump made those comments, before Trump even got up, Under Secretary for Science at Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, Bill Bryan, noted various observations about how the virus reacts to certain things including UV light and various chemicals.


Here are Bryan’s comments provided by the transcript from

Yesterday, I shared the emerging results of our work that we’re doing now with the coronavirus task force and today I would like to share a certain trends that we believe are important. If I may have the first slide please. And while that’s coming up, 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.

Bryan later added that various chemicals also make the virus unstable and even kill it:

For example, increasing the temperature and humidity of potentially contaminated indoor spaces appears to reduce the stability of the virus, and extra care may be warranted for dry environments that do not have exposure to solar light. We’re also testing disinfectants readily available. We’ve tested bleach, we’ve tested isopropyl alcohol on the virus specifically in saliva or in respiratory fluids and I can tell you that bleach will kill the virus in five minutes. Isopropyl alcohol will kill the virus in 30 seconds and that’s with no manipulation, no rubbing. Just bring it on and leaving it go. You rub it and it goes away even faster. We’re also looking at other disinfectants, specifically looking at the COVID-19 virus in saliva. This is not the end of our work.

This is what prompted Trump to say what he said.


Despite the blue checks getting gleeful over how stupid Trump is, there are some facts we should get straight. We know that we can use UV light as a way to kill various types of bacteria and foreign bodies already. The practice is called “ultraviolet blood irradiation” and was used as a cure for many different things until the invention of antibiotics. The practice was nicknamed “the cure that time forgot.”

It should be noted that it wasn’t but a few moments later that Trump gave a  clarification of his statement to ABC News reported Jon Karl.

“It wouldn’t be through injections, you’re talking about almost a cleaning and sterilization of an area,” said Trump. “Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work, but it certainly has a big effect if it’s on a stationary object.”

So, no, Trump did not suggest we inject ourselves with bleach or Lysol. This is just reporters reporting irresponsibly and very likely on purpose.

(READ: Jim Acosta Tries to Spin a Trump-Birx Interaction Into a Controversy, but the Transcript Tells the Real Story)

It’s kind of hard not to draw that conclusion since the comments Trump made were made literally right after Bryan’s.


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