Trump remarks on injecting disinfectants draw blowback from doctors

President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeSantis on Florida schools reopening: 'If you can do Walmart,' then 'we absolutely can do schools' NYT editorial board calls for the reopening of schools with help from federal government's 'checkbook' Mueller pens WaPo op-ed: Roger Stone 'remains a convicted felon, and rightly so' MORE’s suggestion that people could inject disinfectants as a way to treat the coronavirus is drawing strong criticism from doctors who warn the remarks from the White House could endanger the public.

“I think we need to speak very clearly that there's no circumstance under which you should take a disinfectant or inject a disinfectant for the treatment of anything, and certainly not for the treatment of coronavirus,” Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner, said on CNBC when asked about the president’s comments.

“There's absolutely no circumstance under which that’s appropriate and it can cause death and very adverse outcomes.”

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In an unusual statement, the company that makes Lysol also warned against ingesting its products on Friday. 

“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),” said the company, Reckitt Benckiser, saying it was responding to “recent speculation and social media activity.”

The comment that set off the reaction came at Trump’s press briefing on Thursday. 

After a presentation from a Department of Homeland Security official about the effects of disinfectants and sunlight on the virus, Trump mused that the same techniques could be used as treatments inside the body. 

“I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute,” Trump said. “One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?”

Trump also asked Deborah Birx, a physician and the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, about using “the heat and the light” as a coronavirus treatment. 

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“Not as a treatment,” she responded. 

The White House pushed back at the criticism on Friday morning, blaming the media for stirring up negative headlines.

“President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”

In an interview on Thursday night, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn agreed with CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta 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. 

Doctors reacting on Twitter were more blunt. 

“Hi, ER Doc here,” tweeted Sam Ghali. “Do NOT inject or consume ANY disinfectants in an attempt to kill COVID19.”

Others warned that needing to take time to knock down Trump’s comments was distracting from actually responding to the outbreak. 

“Instead of being asked about how we improve our #COVID19 response in the coming months, doctors are being asked to comment on why people shouldn’t drink things like bleach or isopropyl alcohol,” tweeted Craig Spencer, an ER doctor in New York. “This has to stop. This is the problem.”

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms made a similar point on CNN. 

“In addition to advising people to please stay home, now I have to add to that list, ‘And don't inject your body with Lysol,’ ” she said. “It's like we're living in the 'Twilight Zone.' ”