The maker of household cleaning products Lysol and Dettol warned customers not to ingest or inject its disinfectants after President Donald Trump floated the dangerous idea as a possible treatment for coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.
“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),” the company, Reckitt Benckiser, said in a statement Friday. “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.”
Reckitt Benckiser said the company was releasing a statement due to “recent speculation and social media activity.”
Trump’s bizarre speculation about the possible use of disinfectant as a treatment for coronavirus occurred in a briefing Thursday.
“And then I saw the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute, and is there a way we could do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Trump mused during his White House press briefing. “As you see it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
The suggestion to “check” whether injecting disinfectant is a good idea came after Bill Bryan, head of the science and technology directorate at the Department of Homeland Security, discussed the effectiveness of household disinfectants and sunlight in killing the virus on surfaces and contaminated areas.
While household cleaners and UV light may destroy the virus outside the body, using them internally is dangerous, public health experts warn.
Doctors and other medical professionals have reacted with horror to the president’s speculations, saying that ingesting household cleaners could even be fatal.
“Any amount of bleach or isopropyl alcohol or any kind of common household cleaner is inappropriate for ingestion even in small amounts,” global health policy expert Dr. Vin Gupta told NBC News. “Small amounts are deadly … It’s a common method that people utilize when they want to kill themselves.”
The White House responded to the growing backlash Friday by blaming the media for allegedly taking Trump’s quotes out of context.
“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.
People’s fears about coronavirus have led to a variety of wild conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus, as well as a glut of pseudoscientific claims about how it can be cured.
“To date, there are no specific vaccines or medicines for COVID-19,” the World Health Organization warns.
For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.
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