Doctors and health experts urged people not to drink or inject disinfectant on Friday after U.S. President Donald Trump suggested scientists should investigate inserting the cleaning agent into the body as a way to combat COVID-19.
“[This is an] absolutely dangerous, crazy suggestion,” said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at Britain’s University of East Anglia.
“You may not die of COVID-19 after injecting disinfectant, but only because you may already be dead from the injection.”
Trump said at his daily media briefing on Thursday that scientists should explore whether inserting light or disinfectant into the bodies of people infected with the new coronavirus might help them clear the disease.
“Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning?” he said. “It would be interesting to check that.”
Trump looked over at Dr. Deborah Birx while making the comments. The co-ordinator of one of the White House’s coronavirus task forces appeared uncomfortable and caught off-guard.
The White House said on Friday that Trump had been taken out of context and had urged people to seek coronavirus treatment only after conferring with their doctors.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement: “President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing.”
The emailed statement did not directly mention cleaners or ultraviolet (UV) light as coronavirus treatments, but its subject was “White House on disinfectant.”
‘Under no circumstance’: Lysol
Reckitt Benckiser, which manufacturers household disinfectants Dettol and Lysol, issued a statement on Friday. “Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body [through injection, ingestion or any other route],” the company said.
Trump’s comments were also met with alarm by the medical experts that the U.S. news networks employ as contributors. “I just don’t think we should be normalizing that in any way, shape or form,” said Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN. In the same segment, Dr. Leana Wen said the experts serving in the administration are engaged in a difficult balancing act of needing to tell the truth “while at the same time not upsetting the president so much that they can’t be credible in his eyes.”