President Donald Trump tried to offer some optimism on Thursday by showing evidence that the coronavirus dies quickly after being exposed to sunlight.
But William Bryan, Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security stressed the findings are preliminary.
Also during Thursday’s White House coronavirus news conference, Trump turned to Bryan and the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, inquiring, “Then I see the disinfectant, where I see it knocks it out in a minute. Is there a way we can do something like that? By injection inside or almost a cleaning, as you see it gets into the lungs and it does a tremendous number.”
Trump’s suggestion is not backed up by any science, and people should not inject a disinfectant in hopes of killing off the virus.
Bryan said that Homeland Security tested the effectiveness of using chemicals on surfaces, and found that bleach kills the virus in five minutes, and alcohol kills it in 30 seconds.
Bryan said that Homeland Security has been studying the effect of daylight on the virus, and found some promising science that the virus dies quickly in daylight.
Bryan said the research conducted by Homeland Security’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center found that virus is inactivated quicker with direct sunlight both on surfaces and in air.
Bryan added that the virus does not survive well in saliva as the temperature and humidity increases. HHS research suggests that the virus inactivates quickly in the presence of direct sunlight and appears to survive best in indoor and dry conditions.
“It is not the end of our work as we continue to characterize this virus to innovate our practical applications to mitigate exposure and transmission,” Bryan said.
Bryan stressed though that Homeland Security is not recommending a change to social distancing guidelines.
“That doesn’t take away the other activities, the guidance from the White House from the CDC and others on the actions and steps people need to take to protect themselves,” Bryan said.
Bryan said that when the virus is not subjected to direct sunlight, the virus is not affected by indirect sunlight.
“Think of playground equipment, when UV rays hit playground equipment, it will kill the virus when it hits that playground equipment,” Bryan said. “But underneath where the sun does not get, if someone touches that and has it on their hands, it could still be there.”
Justin Boggs is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @jjboggs or on Facebook .