The Onion predicted Trump’s suggestion that disinfectants might kill coronavirus
President Donald Trump participates in the daily briefing of the coronavirus task force at the White House on April 23, 2020.(Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
A lot of media outlets were surprised by President Trump’s claim that injecting disinfectants into sick patients might cure coronavirus, but The Onion wasn’t one of them.
The satirical newspaper ran a story nearly a month ago featuring a fictional grocery shopper in Wyoming stocking up on $2,513.67 worth of bleach, ammonia, and Drano in case the president suddenly suggested human consumption of such things could be the magical potion he’s been searching for to cure the pandemic that’s spread across the U.S. at an incomparable rate.
"I got toilet bowl cleaner, carpet cleaner, Swiffer WetJet refills — you name it — just so me and my family will be ready if the president announces one of these things can treat Chinese virus,” made-up man Troy Mitchell said in the fictional story. "You never know what might work in a pinch!”
That suddenly less-funny March 25 article eerily foreshadowed a press conference the president held Thursday, where he suggested cleaning agents might knock out the virus that has killed more than 193,000 people worldwide in roughly five months, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“Then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute, one minute, is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?" Trump asked medical experts and reporters at the White House event. "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 out.”
Trump did issue the caveat “You’re going to have to use medical doctors.”
The president’s comments prompted leading disinfectant manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser, which makes products including Lysol, to issue a statement urging the public not to consume its potentially toxic products.
"Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body,” the company stated.
According to the Onion, thing didn’t work out well for the fictional Mr. Mitchell.
“At press time, neighbors confirmed Mitchell had been found unresponsive on the floor of his bathroom with several empty aerosol cans of Rust-Oleum wax-and-tar-removing solvent by his head,” the parody piece concluded.
A day after suggesting with a straight-face that disinfectants might cure coronavirus, Trump said he too was trying to be funny.
If nothing else, the president has been optimistic about find a silver bullet for the pandemic.
Trump and his advocates at Fox News had heavily touted the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a remedy for coronavirus in recent weeks.
On Friday, the FDA warned that the drug had “not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19” and that there had been reports of coronavirus sufferers being treated with hydroxychloroquine suffering heart problems. The agency recommends the drug only be used under direct medical supervision.