Trump’s Idea to Inject Disinfectant to Kill Coronavirus Alarms Medical Experts

Date: 2020-04-24 11:32:34

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President Donald Trump returned to the lectern Thursday after a government scientist’s presentation about studies showing that sunlight, humidity and disinfectants kill the coronavirus on surfaces — in some cases within seconds.

What Trump suggested next later sparked warnings from doctors and manufacturers of household cleaners.

Bill Bryan, an undersecretary at the Homeland Security Department, told reporters during the White House’s daily task force briefing that research had shown bleach could kill the virus in saliva or respiratory fluids in five minutes and isopropyl alcohol could kill it even more quickly.

“The disinfectant knocks it out in a minute. One minute,” Trump said in response to the presentation. “Is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside?” He said it would be “almost a cleaning. It gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on the lungs.”

On Friday morning, the maker of Lysol and Dettol, Reckitt Benckiser Plc, issued a statement that “under no circumstance” should its disinfectant products be administered into the human body, through injection, ingestion or any other route. The company said it was issuing the guidance after it was asked whether internal administration of disinfectants “may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus,” amid recent speculation and social media activity.

Warnings were echoed by doctors and researchers. Bleach is a toxic chemical, and inhaling it could damage the lungs.

“Inhaling chlorine bleach would be absolutely the worst thing for the lungs,” said John Balmes, a pulmonoligist a Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and a professor of medicine at the University of California San Francisco. “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,” Balmes said in a telephone interview. “It’s a totally ridiculous concept.”

Thursday’s coronavirus briefing from the White House began innocuously enough. More than 870,000 people in the U.S. have been confirmed infected with Covid-19 and more than 49,000 have died. About 20,000 new cases were added on Thursday.

Bryan said that new U.S. research showed the coronavirus doesn’t last as long on door handles and other nonporous surfaces when it’s exposed to sunlight, higher temperatures and humidity.

He suggested that offered practical tips for many Americans, including “increasing the temperature and humidity for potentially contaminated indoor spaces” in order to kill the virus on surfaces. At a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 80% humidity in the summer sun, for example, the research showed the virus would last just two minutes on a porous surface. Dry environments Bryan said, may require “extra care.”

Trump has previously expressed interest in whether summer weather would end the outbreak of the virus, suggesting in February that warmer spring temperatures could eliminate cases by this month.

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