WASHINGTON (AP) – Don’t inject disinfectants, health officials leapt to warn on Friday, reacting to President Donald Trump’s comment that disinfectants perhaps could be injected or ingested to fight COVID-19. His suggestion even prompted the maker of Lysol to warn its product should never be used internally.
â€œAs a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route),â€ said the statement from Reckitt Benckiser, parent company of the maker of Lysol and Dettol.
Trump said Friday that he’d been speaking sarcastically but a transcript of his remarks suggested otherwise.
The government also cautioned the nation against the idea.
The Surgeon Generalâ€™s office tweeted: â€œA reminder to all Americans- PLEASE always talk to your health provider first before administering any treatment/ medication to yourself or a loved one. Your safety is paramount, and doctors and nurses are have years of training to recommend whatâ€™s safe and effective.â€
Trumpâ€™s comments on disinfectants came after William Bryan, who leads the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, spoke at the Thursday briefing about how researchers are testing the effect of disinfectants on virus-laden saliva and respiratory fluids in the laboratory. They kill the virus very quickly, he said. Bryan said injections werenâ€™t part of the disinfectant research.
Trump told reporters on Friday: â€œI was asking the question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen.â€
This is what he said a day earlier:
â€œAnd is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning,â€ Trump said. â€œBecause you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, youâ€™re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me.â€
The White House accused the media of taking Trump’s comments out of context.
â€œPresident Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterdayâ€™s briefing,â€ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. â€œLeave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.â€
Trump has acknowledged several times that he’s â€œnot a doctor,â€ but has previously suggested various ideas for fighting the novel coronavirus. Earlier, he repeatedly promoting the drug hydroxychloroquine, saying such drugs could be a potential â€œgame changerâ€ in the fight against the virus.
On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration warned that people should not take chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19 outside of a hospital or formal clinical trial, citing reports of â€œserious heart rhythm problems.â€
The president has often talked up prospects for new therapies and has offered rosy timelines for the development of a vaccine as he encourages states to move to reopen their economies.
On Thursday, the White House also pitched â€œemergingâ€ research on the benefits of sunlight and humidity in diminishing the threat of the virus.
Past studies have not found good evidence that the warmer temperatures and higher humidity of spring and summer will help tamp down the spread of the virus.
But Bryan said at a White House briefing Thursday that there are â€œemerging resultsâ€ from new research that suggest solar light has a powerful effect in killing the virus on surfaces and in the air. He said scientists have seen a similar effect from higher temperatures and humidity. A biocontainment lab in Maryland has been conducting testing on the virus since February, Bryan said.
â€œThe virus is dying at a much more rapid pace just from exposure to higher temperatures and just from exposure to humidity,â€ Bryan said.
Trump was asked if it was dangerous to make people think they would be safe by going outside in the heat, considering that so many people have died in Florida.
â€œI hope people enjoy the sun. And if it has an impact, thatâ€™s great,â€ Trump replied, adding, â€œItâ€™s just a suggestion from a brilliant lab by a very, very smart, perhaps brilliant man.â€
â€œIâ€™m here to present ideas, because we want ideas to get rid of this thing. And if heat is good, and if sunlight is good, thatâ€™s a great thing as far as Iâ€™m concerned,â€ the president said.
Bryan stressed that the emerging results of the light and heat studies do not replace social distancing recommendations.
Earlier in the month, scientific advisers told the White House thereâ€™s no good evidence yet that the heat and humidity of summer will rein in the virus without continued public health measures.
Researchers convened by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine analyzed studies done so far to test virus survival under different laboratory conditions as well as tracking where and how COVID-19 has spread so far.
â€œGiven that countries currently in â€˜summerâ€™ climates, such as Australia and Iran, are experiencing rapid virus spread, a decrease in cases with increases in humidity and temperature elsewhere should not be assumed,â€ the researchers wrote earlier in April in response to questions from the White House Office of Science and Technology.
In addition, the report cited the global lack of immunity to the new virus and concluded, â€œIf there is an effect of temperature and humidity on transmission, it may not be as apparent as with other respiratory viruses for which there is at least some preexisting partial immunity.â€
The report noted that during 10 previous flu pandemics, regardless of what season they started, all had a peak second wave about six months after the virus first emerged.
In March, Dr. Michael Ryan, the World Health Organizationâ€™s emergencies chief. said, â€œWe have to assume that the virus will continue to have the capacity to spread, and itâ€™s a false hope to say yes, it will just disappear in the summertime like influenza.â€