Washington DC, The disinfectant debacle


President Trump’s erratic handling of the Covid-19 emergency took a bizarre turn last week, when he suggested, at his daily televised briefing on the crisis, that patients might be injected with disinfectant or blasted with ultraviolet light. To the visible discomfort of Dr Deborah Birx, one of the White House’s chief advisers on the epidemic, Trump asked if the disease could be treated by “hitting the body” with a “very powerful light”, or by administering disinfectant “by injection inside or almost like a cleaning? Because you see it gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on the lungs.” Following a torrent of criticism from doctors and scientists – and warnings from disinfectant makers not to ingest or inject their products – Trump claimed, to general derision, that he was being “sarcastic”. The fiasco has added to growing fears among Republicans that Trump’s apparent attempt to use his press briefings as campaigning opportunities is backfiring. Polls in key battleground states (such as Michigan and Pennsylvania) now show sizeable leads for Democrat Joe Biden. Since then, the president has adopted a more subdued tone at the briefings, but has carried on using them to berate the media. The US Covid-19 death toll this week passed 59,000.