By Ciara Linnane, MarketWatch
The manufacturer of Lysol and Dettol, health experts, and even the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rushed to warn consumers Friday that President Donald Trump’s suggestion to inject disinfectant or use ultraviolet light to treat COVID-19 could prove lethal.
Trump surprised the press at his Thursday briefing, and left Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the Trump Administration, squirming in her seat, when he made the comments.
“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. 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,” he said.
U.K. home products company Reckitt Benckiser /zigman2/quotes/204605475/delayed RBGPF -0.17% , which makes the two household name disinfectants, immediately published a statement warning: “Under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route)”.
Trump’s suggestion comes after weeks in which he touted the use of anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as a treatment for the virus, even though there have been no clinical trials to suggest they are effective and they have known side effects.
While both drugs are approved for malaria, hydroxychloroquine has also been approved as a treatment for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, and patients suffering from those illnesses have suffered from a shortage of supplies, ever since the federal government began adding it to the federal stockpile.
There are no proven treatments or vaccines for COVID-19 but the Food and Drug Administration in late March issued emergency use authorizations allowing the drugs to be used in a somewhat limited capacity in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, who can’t participate in a clinical trial.
On Friday, the FDA warned that health care providers need to be aware of the serious and sometimes fatal heart rhythm problems that can occur in patients when taking hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. The heart-rhythm risks associated with the drugs are cited on their labels. The FDA said it is investigating heart-related adverse events in COVID-19 patients taking either drug, or in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin or other therapies.
Trump also said Thursday he may extend federal social-distancing guidelines into the summer, even though last weekend he supported protests in some states by people demanding stay-at-home rules be lifted, and he then criticized Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for making plans to allow small businesses, including massage parlors and tattoo studios, to reopen.
Health experts have repeatedly urged states to approach reopening after strict lockdowns with extreme caution if they wish to prevent a second wave of infections.
Latest case tallies
There are now 2.77 million cases of COVID-19 globally and 194,456 people have died, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University . At least 762,196 people have recovered. The U.S. has the highest case toll in the world at 883,826 and the highest death toll at 50,373.
Spain has the highest number of cases in Europe at 219,764 and 22,524 deaths. Italy has 192,994 cases and 25,969 deaths, the highest number of fatalities in Europe.
France has 159,495 cases and 22,278 deaths, while Germany has 154,111 cases and just 5,632 deaths. The U.K. has 144,632 cases and 19,561 deaths. Turkey has 104,912 cases and 2,600 deaths, followed by Iran with 88,194 cases and 5,574 deaths. China, where the disease was first reported late last year, has 83,885 cases and 4,636 deaths.
Russia’s case tally rose by 5,849 on Friday, a steep increase that suggests the country is far from flattening the curve of new infections reported daily, a measure health experts agree is necessary to prevent health care systems from being overwhelmed. Russia now has 68,622 cases and 615 fatalities, nearly half of whom were residents of Moscow.
Spain’s death tally fell to its lowest level in more than a month on Friday with just 367 new deaths reported. South Korea reported no new deaths in the last 24-hour period, while China reported just six new cases.