Trump's Covid-19 disinfectant ideas horrify health experts
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LONDON/WASHINGTON - US President
Donald Trump's musings on whether injecting disinfectants might
treat Covid-19 horrified medical professionals on Friday and
raised fresh concerns that his stream-of-consciousness briefings
could push frightened people to poison themselves with untested
An international chorus of doctors and health experts urged
people not to drink or inject disinfectant after Trump on
Thursday suggested that scientists should investigate inserting
the cleaning agent into the body as a way to cure Covid-19, the
respiratory illness caused by the new coronavirus.
Trump on Friday sought to portray his remarks as sarcasm.
"I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you
just to see what would happen," Trump told reporters at the
His remarks during his daily media briefing on Thursday,
directed at doctors in the room who serve on his coronavirus
task force, did not come across as sarcasm.
Medical experts denounced Trump's suggestions and leading
Democrats blasted the Republican president.
"It is unfortunate that I have to comment on this, but
people should under no circumstances ingest or inject bleach or
disinfectant," American Medical Association President Patrice
Harris said in a statement. "Rest assured when we eventually
find a treatment for or vaccine against COVID-19, it will not be
in the cleaning supplies aisle."
Trump said on Thursday that scientists should explore
whether inserting ultraviolet light or disinfectant into the
bodies of people infected with the coronavirus might help them
clear the disease.
"Is there a way we can do something like that by injection,
inside, or almost a cleaning?" Trump asked. "It would be
interesting to check that."
Pressed repeatedly about the issue on Friday, Trump said he
was not encouraging people to ingest disinfectant.
Trump also has promoted an anti-malaria drug called
hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 even though its
effectiveness is unproven and there are concerns about heart
issues. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday
cautioned against using hydroxychloroquine in COVID-19 patients
outside of hospitals and clinical trials, citing risks of
serious heart rhythm problems.
Reckitt Benckiser, a British company that
manufactures the household disinfectants Dettol and Lysol,
issued a statement warning people not to ingest or inject its
The American Cleaning Institute, representing the U.S.
cleaning products industry, said in a statement, "Disinfectants
are meant to kill germs or viruses on hard surfaces. Under no
circumstances should they ever be used on one's skin, ingested
or injected internally."
There were early signs that at least some Americans were
preparing to act on Trump's comments. A spokesman for Maryland's
governor wrote on Twitter that the state's Emergency Management
Agency had received more than 100 calls about the use of bleach
to treat COVID-19.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top
Democrat in the U.S. Congress, said she doubted that the
Republican president was being sarcastic, telling MSNBC
sarcastically "it seemed like he was speaking from his usual
great authority on every subject."
Joe Biden, Trump's presumptive Democratic challenger in the
Nov. 3 U.S. election, wrote on Twitter, "I can't believe I have
to say this, but please don't drink bleach."
TORRENT OF RIDICULE
Trump's suggestion unleashed a torrent of ridicule online,
with one comedian on social media app TikTok miming the action
of injecting bleach into her veins like a drug.
On Twitter, journalists shared a video of Deborah Birx, the
coordinator of the White House task force on the coronavirus,
who appeared to look down, hunch her shoulders, and blink
rapidly as Trump told the briefing that disinfectant "does a
tremendous number on the lungs."
The White House initially on Friday said critics were taking
Trump's remarks out of context. At an Oval Office event later on
Friday, as Trump sought to walk back his comments he also
returned to the notion that disinfectants and sunlight might
help within the body.
Health professionals have been encouraging people to wash
their hands thoroughly with soap or to use hand sanitizer to
combat the spread of the virus.
"I do think that disinfectant on the hands could have a very
good effect," Trump said.
"Sun and heat and humidity wipe it out. And this is from
tests - they've been doing these tests for ... a number of
months. And the result - so then I said, 'Well, how do we do it
inside the body or even outside the body with the hands and
disinfectant I think would work.'"
While ultraviolet rays are known to kill viruses contained
in droplets in the air, doctors say there is no way UV light
could be introduced into the human body to target cells infected
with the coronavirus.
"Neither sitting in the sun, nor heating will kill a virus
replicating in an individual patient's internal organs," said
Penny Ward, a professor in pharmaceutical medicine at Kings