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Donald Trump had barely distanced himself from statements that malaria treatment could cure the coronavirus before he had moved on to another, even more unorthodox suggestion.
On Thursday night White House officials shared pretty predictable findings: that sunlight and common cleaning supplies can kill a virus within minutes when applied to different surfaces. But then the president had to take it to another level.
“I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump said. “One minute! And is there a way we can do something, by an injection inside or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it’d be interesting to check that. So, that you’re going to have to use medical doctors with, but it sounds interesting to me.”
Reactions were, as one would expect, quite swift.
Medical doctors have been quick to denounce the idea of injecting cleaning products to clear the virus. Just watch Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator Dr Deborah Birx’s face turn from shock to bemusement as she hears his suggestion.
If a qualified physician – who nonetheless has spent enough time with Trump to know his tendency to fabricate – is this shocked, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Trump’s base. Which story are they supposed to believe?
Many have analyzed the way in which Trump uses simple, accessible language in his speeches – around the level of what an eight-year-old could understand. Some are now suggesting his own processing capabilities might be in line with that.
Harvard’s toxicology Twitter account felt the need to issue medical advice online following Trump’s statement, giving a scientific reason for why you shouldn’t swallow bleach (you know, for when common sense won’t suffice).
Comments such as these, which could potentially harm the public, should be taken seriously. But some took the slapstick approach (making memes) to help them digest.
And it makes sense. Because at a time like this, you have to laugh, because truly there are no tears left.
Employees at Clorox and Lysol must be thinking: “This is not the job I signed up for.”
Neuroscientist Dr Sanjay Gupta, on the other hand, felt more sorry for the doctors who have to spend their time advising Trump.
Political pundits likened the speech to something that you might find on a satirical news website such as the Onion. The only thing more satirical, surely, is that this is real life.