Apr 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump claims comments that disinfectants could treat coronavirus were sarcastic

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump said Friday that he answered "sarcastically" during a White House task force briefing when he said that disinfectants may be used to treat coronavirus.

The state of play: During a signing for the interim coronavirus funding bill, the president told reporters that he "was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen" with the response, per a pool report.

What he said on Thursday: "I see the disinfectant that 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? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with.  But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me."

  • Just before his comments on disinfectants, the president also suggested that "ultraviolet or just very powerful light" could be used "inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way" in order to treat the illness.

The big picture: Trump's comments prompted Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of disinfectants Lysol and Dettol, to issue a statement noting that "under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)."

  • Doctors also took to social media to quickly warn people against ingesting or using disinfectants as a treatment, the Washington Post reports.
  • Craig Spencer, the director of global health in emergency medicine at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center, told the Post: "My concern is that people will die. People will think this is a good idea."
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