Fact Check: Did Donald Trump Suggest People Inject Poison to Cure COVID?

Former President Donald Trump's comments surrounding potential treatments for COVID-19 during his tenure came under scrutiny and have been brought up again by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki.

The Claim

In an exchange with Fox News' Peter Doocy at a press briefing on August 11, Psaki raised comments from former President Donald Trump when asked about past remarks from President Joe Biden before he was in office.

Doocy asked whether Biden might have caused vaccine hesitancy in the past when, during Trump's tenure, he said: "I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don't trust Donald Trump, and at this moment, the American people can't either."

During a back-and-forth, Psaki went on to add: "I would note that at the time, just for context, the former president was also suggesting people inject versions of poison into their veins to cure COVID. So I think that's a relevant point."

The Facts

Back in April 2020, Trump spoke at a press conference during which he floated possible ways of treating COVID. He suggested ultraviolet or "just very powerful light" as one. After that, he went on to raise "disinfectant" as a potential solution.

"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?" Trump said.

"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'd be interesting to check that, so that you're going to have to use medical doctors, but it sounds interesting to me."

During the same press conference, a reporter pressed Bill Bryan, head of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, on injecting a cleaner or bleach: "There's no scenario where that could be injected into a person, is there?"

Trump interjected to clarify his earlier comment: "It wouldn't be through injections, we're talking about almost a cleaning and sterilization of an area. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn't work, but it certainly has a big effect if it's on a stationary object."

The former president later claimed his controversial remarks were "sarcastic" when he faced criticism. "I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters just like you to see what would happen," Trump told reporters in a subsequent press briefing.

His comments led manufacturers to warn people not to attempt to use disinfectants to treat COVID. Disinfectant is highly effective at killing viruses on surfaces. But ingesting disinfectants, which are toxic to humans, is extremely dangerous.

The Ruling

Fact Check - False



Trump did speculatively raise the question of medical experts researching disinfectants as a possible COVID treatment, which Psaki was alluding to. And though he initially touted an "injection inside or a cleaning," he clarified in the same press conference that any treatment he was speculating on would not be through injections.

Despite Trump's dubious, conjectural and inarticulate comments, he did not directly suggest that people inject themselves with disinfectant.

Newsweek has contacted the White House and the office of former President Trump for comment.

donald trump in phoenix arizona
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. Brandon Bell/Getty Images