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U.S. President Donald Trump suggested Thursday evening that injecting disinfectants could cure coronavirus, and now people all over the world are trying to find out how to do it.
Google searches and social media trending topics have seen a huge spike in associated terms in the hours since Trump made the off-the-wall claims — which, in case you were in any doubt, are completely bogus and potentially life-threatening.
Google Trends shows that in the U.S., there was a massive spike in search terms like disinfectant, bleach, and injection immediately after the president made the remarks in his alarming coronavirus briefing on Thursday.
In Europe on Friday morning, people who opened Twitter were greeted with a strange list of trending topics, which included a number of brands that make disinfectant and toilet cleaner, as well as the term “Dr. Trump.”
As a result, Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer of Lysol, felt the need to put out a statement, on Friday morning: “Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”
The company said it issued the statement "due to recent speculation and social media activity."
In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency reminded people to only use disinfectant on surfaces, warning: “Never apply the product to yourself or others. Do not ingest disinfectant products.” The EPA made no reference to Trump’s comments.
Trump’s disinfectant claim came after a presentation at the White House briefing from William Bryan, acting head of the Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, in which Bryan outlined the findings of government research into ways to combat the coronavirus.
The research found that bleach could kill the virus in saliva or respiratory fluids within five minutes and isopropyl alcohol could kill it even more quickly.
Trump appeared to take that finding as an indication that disinfectants could be ingested to cure COVID-19.
“I see the disinfectant where it 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?” Trump said. “So it'd be interesting to check that.”
Another finding Bryan presented suggested that light and heat could slow the transmission of the disease. In response, Trump suggested that finding could indicate a possible cure.
"So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light," the president 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.
Trump addressed the remarks towards Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, asking her if she was going to test these theories.
When asked about light and heat as a possible cure, Birx told the briefing she had not heard anything about that in relation to COVID-19.
Trump then concluded his series of unfounded claims by saying: "I'm not a doctor. But I'm, like, a person that has a good you-know-what," while pointing to his head.
Unsurprisingly, the medical community has lashed out at Trump’s disinfectant claim.
“This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it's dangerous,” Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist, told NBC News: “It's a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.”
As well as making outlandish claims about quick-fix cures, Trump also openly contradicted with his medical experts.
Earlier Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is heading up the White House’s coronavirus task force, said the U.S. needs to "significantly ramp up" testing, something that almost every public health expert agrees on.
“I don't agree with him on that, no, I think we're doing a great job on testing,” Trump said.
Cover: President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)