The extraordinary uproar over ingesting disinfectants underscored what public health experts say is the danger when the president — who has no training in medicine, a proud aversion to studying details and a supreme confidence in his own expertise — speculates about science during a pandemic.

Compounding the situation is the timidity and at times reluctance with which the physicians advising Trump intervene to correct the president or refute his theories, said Jack Chow, a former U.S. ambassador for global HIV/AIDS in the George W. Bush administration and a former World Health Organization assistant director general…

Birx was present, sitting silently and visibly straining to control her facial expressions as Trump talked up the possibility of disinfectant injections to cure covid-19. When Trump asked her whether heat and ultraviolet light could be another cure, Birx replied, “Not as a treatment,” although she noted that having a fever could help one’s body respond.

“Sometimes you just need to say the president’s wrong,” said a former administration official who, like some others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to be candid. “I understand picking your spots, but sometimes you’re doing the president a favor by saving him from himself.”