50,000 die of coronavirus in US as Trump says country has done ‘great job’

24 April 2020, 16:26 | Updated: 24 April 2020, 18:18

Drugs touted by Trump as cures have actually proven to be harmful
Drugs touted by Trump as cures have actually proven to be harmful. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

US President Donald Trump has said the US has done a "great job" as coronavirus deaths in the nation topped 50,000.

The latest data from John Hopkins University shows 50,031 people have died from Covid-19 - marking one quarter of all deaths in the world from the virus.

Data also shows that of the 2.7 million confirmed cases around the globe, nearly 900,000 have been in the United States.

When asked about the number of deaths in the country, Trump told reporters "I think we've done a great job".

"As you know minimal numbers were going to be 100,000 people and we're hopefully going to be far below that.

"If we didn't take quick action then we could have lost many millions of people so we're really being given a lot of credit from a lot of people.

"I'm not looking for credit myself but I am looking for credit for people in the federal government which have done such a great job and for the doctors and nurses and everybody else".

President Donald Trump has repeatedly praised himself and his administration for his handling of the outbreak.

But his critics have said he has responded too slowly to the outbreak after he initially called the virus a "Democrat hoax".

He has faced further criticism today, after suggesting injecting disinfectant might be a viable Covid-19 treatment.

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The US is now the coronavirus capital of the world
The US is now the coronavirus capital of the world. Picture: PA

For the record, please do not - under any circumstances - inject disinfectant or ingest it in any way.

Speaking at Thursday's White House press briefing, Trump also suggested irradiating patients' bodies with UV light, could also be a treatment for coronavirus.

The Food and Drug Administration has also been forced to issue warnings about two malaria drugs - hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine - which were touted by Trump as treatments for the virus.

Trump had even go so far as to order the stockpiling of 28 million doses of hydroxychloroquine without any proof that it would be helpful in treating Covid-19.

A subsequent study actually found it could potentially be more deadly to those who were suffering with the virus.

The government has advised all citizens should wear a face covering
The government has advised all citizens should wear a face covering. Picture: PA

But the FDA has now said that both drugs could actually create heart problems if taken with the antibiotic azithromycin.

A statement said: "The FDA is aware of reports of serious heart rhythm problems in patients with Covid-19 treated with hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine, often in combination with azithromycin."

But undeterred by his lack of medical training and results in recommending medicines, Trump has also pitched "emerging" research on the benefits of sunlight and humidity in diminishing the threat of coronavirus.

Past studies have not found good evidence that the warmer temperatures and higher humidity of spring and summer will help tamp down the spread of the virus.

But Mr Trump said that there are "emerging results" from new research that suggest solar light has a powerful effect in killing the virus on surfaces and in the air. He said scientists have seen a similar effect from higher temperatures and humidity.

William Bryan of the Department of Homeland Security science and technology unit, said a biocontainment lab in Maryland has been conducting testing on the virus since February.

The FDA have now advised against two drugs touted by Trump as cures
The FDA have now advised against two drugs touted by Trump as cures. Picture: PA

"The virus is dying at a much more rapid pace just from exposure to higher temperatures and just from exposure to humidity," he said.

Mr Bryan added that having more knowledge about this could help governors make decisions about how and when to open their state economies, a key policy for the president.

However, the DHS expert stressed that emerging results of the light and heat studies do not replace social distancing recommendations.

Mr Trump, who has consistently looked for hopeful news about containing the virus, was asked if it was dangerous to make people think they would be safe by going outside in the heat, considering so many people have died in Florida.

"I hope people enjoy the sun. And if it has an impact, that's great," he replied, adding: "It's just a suggestion from a brilliant lab by a very, very smart, perhaps brilliant man.

The US also has the majority of Covid-19 cases on the globe
The US also has the majority of Covid-19 cases on the globe. Picture: PA

"I'm here to present ideas, because we want ideas to get rid of this thing. And if heat is good, and if sunlight is good, that's a great thing as far as I'm concerned."

The president has often talked up prospects for new therapies and offered rosy timelines for the development of a vaccine.

Earlier in the month, scientific advisers told the White House there was no good evidence that the heat and humidity of summer will rein in the virus without continued public health measures.

Researchers convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine analysed studies done so far to test virus survival under different laboratory conditions as well as tracking where and how Covid-19 has spread so far.

"Given that countries currently in 'summer' climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed," the researchers wrote in response to questions from the White House Office of Science and Technology.

They noted that during 10 previous flu pandemics, regardless of what season they started, all had a peak second wave about six months after the virus emerged.

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