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'Don't do it': Experts speak out after Trump ponders whether injecting disinfectants could treat Covid-19

'Don't do it': Experts speak out after Trump ponders whether injecting disinfectants could treat Covid-19
President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and members of the White House COVID-19 Coronavirus task force, delivers remarks and answers questions from members of the press during a coronavirus update briefing Thursday, April 16, 2020, in the James S. Brady White House Press Briefing Room. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

"ALERT! Please do not ingest, inject, inhale, or otherwise use any disinfectant outside of its labeled instructions. And do not start using tanning beds or sunning without sunscreen."


President Donald Trump used the daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing Thursday night to once again speculate dangerously and ignorantly on possible treatments for the Covid-19, this time rambling about exposing patients to "tremendous" amounts of ultraviolet light or injecting them with household disinfectants.

"This is not willy-nilly, off-the-cuff, maybe-this-will-work advice. This is dangerous."

—Craig Spencer, New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center

"I see the disinfectant, where it 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 asked, turning to William Bryan, a top scientist at the Department of Homeland Security. "Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that."

"Sounds interesting to me," Trump added.

The president's comments came after Bryan, acting undersecretary for science and technology at DHS, delivered a presentation on tests purportedly showing that sunlight and disinfectants like bleach can kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces.

Trump's response to Bryan's presentation horrified medical professionals, who rushed to social media and the press to warn against ingesting disinfectants or experimenting with extreme light treatments.

"ALERT! Please do not ingest, inject, inhale, or otherwise use any disinfectant outside of its labeled instructions," tweeted Dr. Rob Davidson, an emergency physician and executive director of the Committee to Protect Medicare. "And do not start using tanning beds or sunning without sunscreen."

"If today didn't convince networks to stop broadcasting the pressers," Davidson added, "nothing will."

"My concern is that people will die," Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, said in an interview with the Washington Post. "People will think this is a good idea. This is not willy-nilly, off-the-cuff, maybe-this-will-work advice. This is dangerous."

Esther Choo, an emergency physician and associate professor at Oregon Health and Science University, noted on Twitter that while Thursday evening was not the first time the president has touted untested treatments for Covid-19, Trump's recommendations are quickly becoming more bizarre and dangerous.

"We've gone from suggesting unproven treatments (hydroxycholorquine) to suggesting things that are known to have unequivocal harm (isopropyl alcohol, bleach)," Choo wrote. "What's next?"

Choo voiced her incredulity in an appearance on MSNBC following the White House briefing.

"Those are things we always worry that kids swallow accidentally," said Choo.

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