Doctors are lining up to attack Trump for suggesting that injecting disinfectant might help fight the coronavirus

President Donald Trump at Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing discussed the possibility of using disinfectants to treat the coronavirus. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump suggested Thursday that scientists should look into using disinfectants as a coronavirus treatment.
  • Medics leaped to criticise this suggestion and outlined the dangers of taking any form of disinfectant internally, whether by inhalation, ingestion, or injection.
  • FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn defended the president on CNN, saying he had been musing on questions any ordinary American would have. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a CNN medical correspondent, 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 might be used as “a cleaning” to treat coronavirus infections.

Following a presentation at the White House coronavirus press briefing in which Bill Bryan, a Department of Homeland Security official, described the effects that heat, ultraviolet light, and bleach had been found to have on killing the coronavirus on various surfaces, Trump mused on the ways this might be applied internally on a patient.

The president rhetorically 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 needed to be studied.

Trump has previously touted other unproven remedies, such as the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, as potential wonder cures or treatments for COVID-19, though any treatment decisions should be made by one’s doctor.

In the latest 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.”

“We know the answer to this one,” Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, told the network’s Anderson Cooper, adding that the idea was not even worth testing because the dangers of disinfectants on the human body were already known.

Speaking with Gupta and Cooper in another interview, Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, 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 it. That doesn’t need to be studied. You can already say that that doesn’t work, right?” Hahn conceded that medical experts would agree.

Dr. Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and MSNBC commentator, 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 utilise when they want to kill themselves.”

Responding specifically to the idea of inhalation of disinfectant, the pulmonologist John Balmes from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital told Bloomberg News that it would be “absolutely the worst thing for the lungs” and that “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 is to examine people’s cause of death – said simply: “Oh FFS please don’t do this. I don’t need the extra work.”

The presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, also weighed in on Twitter, saying the president should focus on providing protective equipment to medics and roll out more testing.

Reckitt Benckiser, the manufacturer of cleaning products like 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).”