LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) - Doctors and health experts urged people not to drink or inject disinfectant yesterday after US President Donald Trump suggested scientists should investigate inserting the cleaning agent into the body as a way to cure the Covid-19 virus.
"(This is an) absolutely dangerous crazy suggestion," said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at Britain's University of East Anglia. "You may not die of Covid-19 after injecting disinfectant, but only because you may already be dead from the injection."
Mr Trump said at his daily media briefing on Thursday (April 23) that scientists should explore whether inserting light or disinfectant into the bodies of people infected with the new coronavirus might help them clear the disease.
"Is there a way we can do something like that by injection, inside, or almost a cleaning?," he said. "It would be interesting to check that."
William Bryan, acting head of the US Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate, outlined his findings at the news conference earlier.
"The disinfectant knocks it out in a minute. One minute," Mr Trump said in response to the presentation, adding "it gets in the lungs and does a tremendous number on the lungs."
On Friday (April 24) morning, the maker of Lysol and Dettol, Reckitt Benckiser Plc, issued a statement that "under no circumstance" should its disinfectant products be administered into the human body, through injection, ingestion or any other route.
The company said it was issuing the guidance after it was asked whether internal administration of disinfectants "may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus," amid recent speculation and social media activity.
The warnings were echoed by doctors and researchers.
Bleach is a toxic chemical, and inhaling it could damage the lungs.
Parastou Donyai, director of pharmacy practice and a professor of social and cognitive pharmacy at the University of Reading, said Mr Trump's comments were shocking and unscientific.
He said people worried about the new coronavirus and the Covid-19 disease it causes should seek help from a qualified doctor or pharmacist, and "not take unfounded and off-the-cuff comments as actual advice".
Robert Reich, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and a former US labour secretary, added on Twitter: "Trump's briefings are actively endangering the public's health. Please don't drink disinfectant".
"This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible, and it's dangerous," Vin Gupta, pulmonologist and global health expert told NBC News.
"It's a common method that people utilise when they want to kill themselves."