Roll up for Donald Trump’s old West traveling medicine show.
He’s marketed steaks and real estate, board games and vodka, but nothing the incorrigible salesman has tried to hawk measures up to his latest routine as he speculated on a possible new cure for Covid-19.
For most of his life as a pitchman, Trump has only had his own reputation on the line. But now, in the middle of a generational health crisis, lives are at stake.
In an eye-popping moment, Trump doubled down on his claim that sunlight and the festering humidity of high summer could purge the virus in his latest grab for a game-changer therapy.
Then, he asked aides on camera whether zapping patients with light or injecting disinfectant into the lungs to clean sick patients from inside could cure them of the disease.
“Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. Again I say maybe you can, maybe you can’t. I’m not a doctor. I’m like a person who has a good you-know-what,” Trump said, pointing to his head.
That led the Reckitt Benckiser Group, which produces Lysol, to flatly announce on its website that “under no circumstance” should disinfectant be administered into the human body.
Washington state’s emergency management agency warned against eating Tide pods or injecting disinfectant, tweeting, “don’t make a bad situation worse.”
On Friday, President Donald Trump lied Friday when he said he was being “sarcastic” when he asked medical experts on Thursday to look into the possibility of injecting disinfectant as a treatment for the coronavirus.
Doctors and the company that makes Lysol and Dettol warned that injecting or ingesting disinfectants is dangerous.
But when Trump was asked about the comments during a bill signing on Friday, he said, “I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.”
He then suggested he was talking about disinfectants that can safely be rubbed on people’s hands. And then he returned to the sarcasm explanation, saying it was “a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside.”
A reporter noted that he had asked his medical experts to look into it. Trump responded: “No, no, no, no — to look into whether or not sun and disinfectant on the hands, but whether or not sun can help us.”
Trump’s comments made his extravagant claims for the unproven use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine seem peer-reviewed by comparison.
And they were ironic, given rising criticism that he repeatedly discredits science that conflicts with his rosy claims the pandemic will soon be over.
Trump’s bizarre performance came as the horrible dilemma he faces between keeping the economy closed to halt the virus and getting people back to work became even more stark.
New data Thursday showed that 26 million Americans have lost their jobs in five weeks, reflecting the terrible human impact the current emergency can have even on people who don’t get sick.
The number of US deaths moved towards 50,000 as the virus dug into more communities — even as a clutch of states laid plans to open back up.
Trump’s comments horrified medical experts
Renowned cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Reiner told CNN’s Erin Burnett that the President needed to leave the medical analysis to the professionals and that his statements needed to be vetted because so many people listen to him.
“If the President thinks that tanning beds are going to cure the coronavirus, it is a mistake, it’s not going to happen,” Reiner said.
Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician at LifeSpan/Brown University, told Burnett that viruses and bacteria don’t live as long in sunlight and said there probably would be a decrease of coronavirus infections over the summer.
But she added: “Sunlight is not a panacea. It is not going to be a cure-all. It is not going to save us from the virus.”
The latest medical follies came a day after a top administration vaccine specialist Rick Bright said he was ousted after blocking funding for unproven virus cures touted by the President.
Trump and his allies on conservative media spent weeks touting hydroxychloroquine based on small anecdotal studies in France and China.
But a study this week by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Virginia found that hundreds of patients at US Veterans Administration hospitals who took the drug were no less likely to need mechanical ventilation and had higher death rates compared to those who did not take it.
Trump angrily denied that he had now stopped pushing the drug — though he hasn’t talked it up for days in the briefing.