Fact Check: It's True: Trump Once Asked if Injecting Disinfectant Could Be a COVID-19 Treatment

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Claim:

Former U.S. President Donald Trump once said, with regard to the development of new medical treatments for COVID-19: "And then 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."

Rating:

Rating: Correct Attribution
Rating: Correct Attribution

During the campaign season ahead of the 2024 presidential election, social media posts repeated a claim that has frequently been made about former U.S. President Donald Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are multiple versions of the claim, all of which center on real 2020 statements by Trump about disinfectants and COVID. Among other variants, he allegedly suggested that "injecting" a disinfectant could be a treatment for COVID-19:

(@RiegerReport / X)

It's true that, while commenting on possible medical treatments for COVID-19 during a White House briefing, Trump said the words, "And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute," then said the words, "by injection inside."

However, the transcript of the briefing clarifies that while Trump's remarks were erroneous and confusing, he did not at any point instruct people to inject disinfectants or any other substances (including bleach) into their bodies.

Here's the official White House transcript of Trump's remarks (emphasis added) from April 2020:

TRUMP: And then 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. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you're going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.

It was not (and still is not) totally clear what Trump meant by the statement. Trump later said — adding to the confusion — he was "asking a question sarcastically" to reporters "just to see what would happen" the day after the news briefing.

In any case, multiple interpretations of his remarks, including the false claim that he suggested people "inject bleach," were loosed on social media and from the lips of Trump's political opponents. Manufacturers of household disinfectants felt compelled to issue warnings to people not to misuse their products. RB, the maker of Lysol, issued a statement after Trump made his remarks that said disinfectants could not be used as a treatment for COVID-19.

To get more fact checks of what Biden and Trump said during the first 2024 presidential debate, you can find our fact-checking of what happened — which we covered in real time — here.

Sources:

CNN Staff. "READ: Biden-Trump Debate Rush Transcript | CNN Politics." CNN, 28 June 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/06/27/politics/read-biden-trump-debate-rush-transcript/index.html.

Evon, Dan. "Did Trump Suggest Injecting Disinfectant Could Be COVID-19 Treatment?" Snopes, 24 Apr. 2020, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/trump-disinfectants-covid-19/.

McGraw, Meredith & Stein, Sam. "It's Been Exactly One Year Since Trump Suggested Injecting bleach. We've Never Been the Same." Politicohttps://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/23/trump-bleach-one-year-484399. Accessed 28 June 2024.

O'Kane, Caitlin. "Lysol Maker Warns against Injecting and Drinking Disinfectants as a Coronavirus Treatment." CBS News. 24 Apr. 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/lysol-injecting-trump-disinfectants-coronavirus-treatment/.

"Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing." Trump White House Archives, 23 April 2020, https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-vice-president-pence-members-coronavirus-task-force-press-briefing-31/. Accessed 28 June 2024.

Snopes Staff. "Fact-Checking the 2024 Presidential Debate." Snopes, 27 June 2024, https://www.snopes.com//news/2024/06/27/presidential-debate-live-updates/.

Specht, Paul. "Biden Exaggerates Trump's Pandemic Comments about Disinfectants, UV Light." PolitiFact, https://www.politifact.com/factchecks/2024/mar/28/joe-biden/biden-exaggerates-trumps-pandemic-comments-about-d/. Accessed 28 June 2024.

Timm, Jane C. "Trump Says He Was Being Sarcastic with Comments about Injecting Disinfectants." NBC News, 24 Apr. 2020, https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-says-he-was-being-sarcastic-comments-about-injecting-disinfectants-n1191991.

Updates:

July 19, 2024: This fact check was revised and corrected to better differentiate between versions of the claim and their respective truth ratings.