According to NBC Health's Troy Jones, who operates the website Nukepills, the demand for potassium iodide jumped last week after President Trump tweeted that he had a “much bigger & more powerful” nuclear button than North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un.
North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the “Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.” Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2018
“On Jan. 2, I basically got in a month’s supply of potassium iodide and I sold out in 48 hours,” said Jones, 53, who is a domestic and international distributor of emergency radiation products.
In the 48-hour period from Trump’s “nuclear button” tweet, Jones shipped about 140,000 doses of potassium iodide, which blocks the thyroid from absorbing radiation and ultimately help thwart cancer in a nuclear event. Jones further said a typical week of shipments without President Trump stoking atomic war runs about 8,400 doses to private individuals. In other words, Trump increased Jones' sales by over 16x last week. Jones notes the sales figures do not include government agencies, hospitals, and universities.
To confirm this trend, Alan Morris, president of the Virginia-based pharmaceutical firm Anbex Inc, which specializes in radiation protection, said he’d seen an increase in demand, too.
“We are a wonderful barometer of the level of anxiety in the country,” said Morris.
Morris appears to be right: the search term “nuclear war” and “trump nuclear war” have surged since Trump entered office.
Jones warns that the escalating war of words between the U.S. and North Korea has contributed to widespread fear across the country. Although Jones says some of his buyers are “preppers,” many new buyers today are regular families seeking protection from nuclear war.
Such concerns were on displayed last week, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it would conduct an unprecedented briefing on January 16 concerning the “public health response to a nuclear detonation” over the skies of the United States.
While a nuclear detonation is unlikely, it would have devastating results and there would be limited time to take critical protection steps. Despite the fear surrounding such an event, planning and preparation can lessen deaths and illness. For instance, most people don’t realize that sheltering in place for at least 24 hours is crucial to saving lives and reducing exposure to radiation. While federal, state, and local agencies will lead the immediate response efforts, public health will play a key role in responding. Join us for this session of Grand Rounds to learn what public health programs have done on a federal, state, and local level to prepare for a nuclear detonation. Learn how planning and preparation efforts for a nuclear detonation are similar and different from other emergency response planning efforts.
Back in 2011, Jones saw a massive surge in demand for potassium iodide following the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear reactor. With minimal known radiation threats today, sales are once more exploding on the back of mass hysteria of nuclear war from President Trump’s Twitter account.
“I now follow his Twitter feed just to gauge the day’s sales and determine how much to stock and how many radiation emergency kits to prep for the coming week,” Jones said, adding: “I don’t think he intended to have this kind of effect.”
Nevertheless, President Trump has managed to make the potassium iodide industry and the world of preppers great again.