October 28, 2020

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Coronavirus: Disinfectant firm issues warning after Trump comments

A leading disinfectant producer has issued a strong warning not to use its products on the human body after Donald Trump suggested they could potentially be used to treat coronavirus.

Reckitt Benckiser, which owns Lysol and Dettol, said “under no circumstance” should its products be injected or ingested.

President Trump faces a backlash over his comments at a briefing on Thursday.

Disinfectants are hazardous substances and can be poisonous if ingested.

Even external exposure can be dangerous to the skin, eyes and respiratory system.

Mr Trump’s comments have been heavily criticised by doctors and have generated a huge online response. They have provoked hundreds of thousands of comments and caused well-known cleaning brands to trend on social media.

Reckitt Benckiser, which also owns the brands Vanish and Cillit Bang, said its products should not be administered “through injection, ingestion or any other route”.

“Our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information,” the company said in a statement.

What did President Trump say?

President Trump

During Thursday’s White House coronavirus task force briefing, an official presented the results of US government research that indicated coronavirus appeared to weaken faster when exposed to sunlight and heat.

The study also showed bleach could kill the virus in saliva or respiratory fluids within five minutes, and isopropyl alcohol could kill it even more quickly.

Mr Trump then hypothesised about the possibility of using a “tremendous ultraviolet” or “just very powerful light” on or even inside the body as a potential treatment.

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

“Because you see it gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on them, so it’d be interesting to check that,” he said.

His comments have dominated social media platforms like Twitter and Reddit.

Many compared his idea to a dangerous viral trend in 2018 where people ate Tide laundry detergent pods.

Lysol, which is one of the America’s best known cleaning brands, has been named in tweets at least 125,000 times since the White House news conference.

Owners Reckitt Benckiser said they issued their statement on Friday “due to recent speculation and social media activity”.

What’s the medical reaction been?

Doctors warned that the president’s suggestion could have fatal results.

“This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous,” Dr Vin Gupta, a pulmonologist and global health policy expert, told NBC news. “It’s a common method that people utilise when they want to kill themselves.”

“Inhaling chlorine bleach would be absolutely the worst thing for the lungs,” pulmonologist John Balmes told Bloomberg News. “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. It’s a totally ridiculous concept.”

This is not the first time that Mr Trump’s medical advice has generated controversy and criticism.

He has previously hyped a malaria medication, hydroxychloroquin, despite a lack of clinical evidence it helps treat Covid-19 and some concerns it can even be detrimental.

(BBC)