By Ted Johnson [April 23, 2020]
President Donald Trump’s briefing on Thursday was devoted in part to a presentation from a Homeland Security official who offered data suggesting the coronavirus does not survive as long in high humidity and sunlight.
The presentation came from William Bryan, an official with the Department of Homeland Security, who said that solar light had a “powerful” impact on killing the virus. But he also said that they were studying how disinfectants eradicate the virus within minutes.
Later, Trump suggested that such findings could be applied to a study of killing the virus within the body.
“Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous ultra violet or just very powerful light,” he said, looking toward Bryan and Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force. “And I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you are going to test it.”
He added, “And then I said supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you could do either through the skin or in some other way. I think you said that you are going to test that, too. And then I saw the disinfectant, where knocks it out in one minute, and is there a way we could 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.”
Bryan later said that using disinfectant to clean the lungs is not possible. “Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t work,” Trump then said.
After Trump advanced the possible effects of sunlight, he got testy after a reporter questioned whether it was spreading rumors of potential miracle cures.
Phil Rucker of The Washington Post said to Trump, “Respectfully, sir, you’re the president, and people tuning into the briefings, they want to get information and guidance and want to know what to do. They’re not looking for rumor.”
Trump responded, “Hey Phil. I’m the president, and you’re fake news. And know what I will say to you? I will say it to you very nicely because I know you well. I know the guy, I see what he writes. He is a total faker.
He then said that it was merely an idea to test. “Are you ready? It is just a suggestion, from a brilliant lab by a very, very smart, perhaps brilliant man,” Trump said. “[Bryan] is talking about sun. He’s talking about heat, and you see the numbers. I’m just here to present talent. I am here to present ideas, because we want ideas to get rid of this thing. So if heat is good, if sunlight is good, that is a great thing as far as I am concerned.”
Later, on MSNBC, Dr. Irwin Redlener said that Bryan “clearly had no idea what he was talking about and the president just sort of amplified these statements of data without evidence. And again, I’m sure people are going to go out now and try to figure out how they can buy UV lights or how they can insert light and disinfectant into a human body. I really hope people just don’t take this seriously. It was just a pack of nonsense if I can be so blunt.”
Bryan, who is the DHS undersecretary for science and technology, is not a medical doctor. Rather, he has a master of science in strategic intelligence from the Joint Military Intelligence College in Washington, D.C. and a bachelor of science in logistics systems management from Colorado Technical University in Colorado Springs, CO, according to his bio.
Ted Johnson writes for Deadline, a Hollywood news magazine.