On Thursday evening, President Donald Trump speculated about the possibility of curing COVID-19 patients by injecting them with disinfectants such as Lysol, or exposing the insides of their bodies to ultraviolet light. He is now trending on social media as #TidePodPresident.
The President did not name any particular disinfectant brands (that would be a paid endorsement), but he did say, “I see the disinfectant that knocks [coronavirus] out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
Trump rubbed his hands together and said he had been talking about using disinfectant on the hands – something his health team has been urging for months – rather than the completely unheard of practice of injecting powerful cleansing agents into the body. Watch below:
Trump claims he was not being serious when he asked his coronavirus task force coordinator and another official took study the proposal, and said he was jousting with reporters – only to later say government scientists were already working on the idea.
‘I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,’ the president said – after his comments, delivered at length and no hint of a smile during his live televised press briefing, brought blowback.
Lysol answers, “Please don’t drink our cleaners”
Reckitt Benckiser, the British company that makes Lysol and Dettol, issued a public warning on social and on their website:
“Due to recent speculation and social media activity, RB (the makers of Lysol and Dettol) has been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).
As 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). 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.”
American Cleaning Institute Issues Warning
The American Cleaning Institute has also issued the following statement in response to speculation about the use of disinfectants in or on one’s body:
“We remind everyone to please use all hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting products as directed in order to ensure safe, effective and intended use of those product
“Disinfectants are meant to kill germs or viruses on hard surfaces. Under no circumstances should they ever be used on one’s skin, ingested or injected internally.
“We remind everyone to please use all hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting products as directed in order to ensure safe, effective and intended use of those products.”
“We have a responsibility in providing consumers with access to accurate, up-to-date information as advised by leading public health experts. For this and other myth-busting facts, please visit Covid-19facts.com.”
Clorox says “Disinfectants are not Suitable for Consumption”
The Clorox Company also replied to President Trump’s statement on Friday. The company has said that disinfecting surfaces with bleach was one way to help slow the spread of Covid-19, citing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it added: “Bleach and other disinfectants are not suitable for consumption or injection under any circumstances.”
Accidents with household cleaning products appear to have sharply increased in recent weeks, according to doctors who monitor activity at poison call centers. On Monday, the C.D.C. reported an alarming trend of growing calls to poison control centers, and a significant increase in accidental exposures to household cleaners and disinfectants.
Ingesting bleach or disinfectant chemicals is extremely dangerous, said Dr. Diane P. Calello, the medical director of the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System. “When people injected bleach or highly concentrated rubbing alcohol it causes massive organ damage and the blood cells in the body to basically burst,” she said. “It can definitely be a fatal event.”
FDA on CNN
Food and Drug Administration Chief Dr. Stephen Hahn is also getting word out to protect consumers.
In an interview on Thursday night with CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, Hahn said that light and disinfectants are both not to be used in treating the coronavirus.
“I think we should be clear though that the idea of doing some kind of UV light therapy, which is sometimes used for local issues in the body, but not for a widespread viral infection, and the idea of injecting disinfectant, those questions may be getting asked but there’s absolutely no merit to them, that doesn’t need to be studied, you can already say that that doesn’t work, right?” Gupta asked.
“That is exactly what a patient would say to a doctor and that would be the answer of the medical experts,” Hahn replied.
“I certainly wouldn’t recommend the internal ingestion of a disinfectant,” Hahn said at another point.
The White House has since put out a corrected transcript of the Thursday evening coronavirus task force briefing Friday morning with just one revision to a comment that initially made it seem Dr. Deborah Birx was touting heat and the light as a treatment for coronavirus. She was not.