- President Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that scientists look into using disinfectants as a potential coronavirus treatment.
- Medics leapt to criticize this suggestion, and outlined the dangers of taking any form of disinfectant internally, either by inhalation, ingestion or injection.
- FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn defended the president on CNN, saying he had been musing on questions that any ordinary American would have. CNN’s Dr Sanjay Gupta said it shouldn’t be studied at all.
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Medical experts slammed suggestions made by President Donald Trump on Thursday that injecting disinfectants into the human body could be used as “a cleaning” to treat the coronavirus.
Following a briefing from Homeland Security official Bill Bryan, which described the well-established effects of heat, light, and bleach on killing the coronavirus on various surfaces, Trump mused on the ways that this could be applied internally on a patient.
The president asked what would happen if doctors “brought the light inside the body” and whether a disinfectant could be used “like injection inside, or almost a cleaning,” and said the issue needs to be studied.
Trump has previously touted other unproven potential remedies, such as the malarial treatment hydroxychloroquine, as wonder cures for the coronavirus. Scientific studies have shown that it does not work.
In this case, doctors on TV and social media were quick to dismiss the use of disinfectants in the ways Trump suggested as both ineffective and dangerous.
Dr Esther Choo, an emergency-room doctor at Oregon Health & Science University, reacted with disbelief on MSNBC, saying: “The idea that is introducing something that is a known toxin into the body, isopropyl alcohol, disinfectants — those are things that we always worry that kids swallow accidentally, or that people who are intentionally trying to hurt themselves will swallow accidentally.”
Kashif Mahmood, who identifies himself as a doctor of internal medicine, also said: “As a physician, I can’t recommend injecting disinfectant into the lungs or using UV radiation inside the body to treat COVID-19. Don’t take medical advice from Trump.”
—Kashif Mahmood (@kashmood) April 23, 2020
Dr Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, also told the network’s Anderson Cooper: “We know the answer to this one … the idea that we would do a trial of some sort and inject people with disinfectant and some people not … I think everybody would know that that would be dangerous and counterproductive.”
Speaking with Gupta and Cooper in another interview, FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn defended Trump, saying he had simply been airing questions that “I as a doctor would have expected to hear from someone as a natural extension of the data that were presented.”
But when Gupta said: “There’s absolutely no merit to that. That doesn’t need to be studied. You can already say that that doesn’t work, right?” Hahn conceded that medical experts would agree.
—Anderson Cooper 360° (@AC360) April 24, 2020
Pulmonologist and MSNBC commentator Dr Vin Gupta told NBC News: “This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous.”
“It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.”
Responding specifically to the idea of inhalation of disinfectant, pulmonologist John Balms from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital told Bloomberg News that it would be “absolutely the worst thing for the lungs. The airway and lungs are not made to be exposed to even an aerosol of disinfectant.”
“Not even a low dilution of bleach or isopropyl alcohol is safe,” he said. “It’s a totally ridiculous concept.”
On Twitter, Judy Melinek, a doctor and forensic pathologist — whose job it is to examine people’s cause of death — said simply: “Oh FFS please don’t do this. I don’t need the extra work.”
—Judy Melinek M.D. (@drjudymelinek) April 24, 2020
Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden also weighed in on Twitter, saying the president should focus on providing protective equipment to medics and roll out more testing.
—Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) April 24, 2020
Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturers of Lysol and Dettol, issued a clarification on Friday, saying: “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),” as Business Insider reported.