At this point, it’s common knowledge that disinfectant wipes and spray are essential products to keep your house virus-free. But what about using it inside your body? President Donald Trump floated the unlikely question at his daily coronavirus briefing last night.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?” Trump said during Thursday’s press briefing. “Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
The president’s eyebrow-raising comments came after William N. Bryan, the acting undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, presented a study about the effectiveness of sunlight, humidity and various disinfectants in killing COVID-19 on surfaces.
But the morning after, Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer of Lysol wipes and Dettol liquid antiseptic, issued a statement warning consumers that “under no circumstance” should its disinfectant products “be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”
“As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information,” the statement read.
While President Trump did say that Americans should consult with doctors before using anything internally (as White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany noted in a statement on Friday), the medical community seemed to find it absurd that these questions needed to be asked.
“Please do not ingest or inject disinfectant,” John Shields, an orthopedic surgeon at Wake Forest Baptist Health, tweeted shortly after Trump’s briefing on Thursday. “I feel like one should not have to say this.”
“Injecting, ingesting, or inhaling any household product is dangerous and will not prevent or treat COVID-19,” tweeted Bryan D. Hayes, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The doctor laid out the adverse effects of different types of disinfectants in a series of follow-up tweets.
“My concern is that people will die. People will think this is a good idea,” Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told The Washington Post on Friday. “This is not willy-nilly, off-the-cuff, maybe-this-will-work advice. This is dangerous.”
The President’s casual promotion of unproven COVID-19 cures have caused tragedies in the past. Last month, after President Trump touted malaria drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as potential coronavirus treatment, a couple in Arizona hastily tried out a wrong form of chloroquine phosphate product in hopes to prevent infection. The husband died from the intake, while the wife fell extremely ill.