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The leader of the most prominent group in the US peddling potentially lethal industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for coronavirus wrote to Donald Trump at the White House this week.
In his letter, Mark Grenon told Trump that chlorine dioxide – a powerful bleach used in industrial processes such as textile manufacturing that can have fatal side-effects when drunk – is “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body”. He added that it “can rid the body of Covid-19”.
A few days after Grenon dispatched his letter, Trump went on national TV at his daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on Thursday and promoted the idea that disinfectant could be used as a treatment for the virus. To the astonishment of medical experts, the US president said that disinfectant “knocks it out in a minute. One minute!”
He went on to say: “Is there a way we can do something, by an 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.”
Trump did not specify where the idea of using disinfectant as a possible remedy for Covid-19 came from, and the source for his notion remains obscure. But the Guardian has learned that peddlers of chlorine dioxide – industrial bleach – have been making direct approaches to the White House in recent days.
Grenon styles himself as “archbishop” of Genesis II – a Florida-based outfit that claims to be a church but which in fact is the largest producer and distributor of chlorine dioxide bleach as a “miracle cure” in the US. He brands the chemical as MMS, “miracle mineral solution”, and claims fraudulently that it can cure 99% of all illnesses including cancer, malaria, HIV/Aids as well as autism.
Since the start of the pandemic, Genesis II has been marketing MMS as a cure to coronavirus. It advises users, including children, to mix three to six drops of bleach in water and drink it.
In his weekly televised radio show, posted online on Sunday, Grenon read out the letter he wrote to Trump. He said it began: “Dear Mr President, I am praying you read this letter and intervene”.
Grenon said that 30 of his supporters have also written in the past few days to Trump at the White House urging him to take action to protect Genesis II in its bleach-peddling activities which they claim can cure coronavirus.
On Friday, hours after Trump talked about disinfectant on live TV, Grenon went further in a post on his Facebook page. He claimed that MMS had actually been sent to the White House. He wrote: “Trump has got the MMS and all the info!!! Things are happening folks! Lord help others to see the Truth!”
Paradoxically, Trump’s outburst about the possible value of an “injection” of disinfectant into the lungs of Covid-19 sufferers came just days after a leading agency within the president’s own administration took action to shut down the peddling of bleach as a coronavirus cure around the US.
Last week the US Food and Drug Administration obtained a federal court order barring Genesis II from selling what was described as “an unproven and potentially harmful treatment for Covid-19”. The FDA also ordered a disciple of Genesis II, Kerri Rivera, to remove claims that MMS cured coronavirus from her website.
Last August the FDA issued an urgent warning urging Americans not to buy or drink MMS, which it said was a “dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects”. Drinking MMS can cause nausea, diarrhea and severe dehydration that can lead to death, the federal agency said.
The Guardian reached out to the White House asking whether Grenon’s letter had influenced Trump’s comments on disinfectant, but did not immediately receive a response.
Another advocate of bleach as a miracle cure who has been seeking to interest Trump in the treatment is Alan Keyes. He is a former ambassador and advisor to Ronald Reagan who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican candidate for the US Senate and on three occasions for the US presidency.
Keyes has featured Genesis II bleach products as a miracle cure on his online conservative TV show, Let’s Talk America.
It is not known whether Keyes has discussed MMS with Trump. But the two men have overlapping interests.
Not only have they both featured in Republican party and presidential politics, but they were both leading proponents of the Birther conspiracy theory that wrongfully suggested Barack Obama was born outside America.
Keyes’ TV show is hosted on IAMtv, a right-wing web-based channel. IAMtv’s other leading anchor is Bob Sisson, who has also advertised Gensis II bleach products on air.
In one of his shows, first reported by the Daily Beast, Sisson held up two bottles of Genesis II MMS and said: “Gonna meet Trump, it’s only a matter of time. President Trump’s gonna invite us up there, when he finds out about this stuff.”
On Friday Trump claimed he was being “sarcastic” in his remarks but there is no evidence to back up that claim and he appeared entirely serious as he made them.
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