NATIONWIDE — President Trump on Friday walked back statements he made during a White House briefing suggesting humans might be able to inject disinfectants as a way to fight the coronavirus, while the parent company of Lysol disinfectant warned that its products should not be used internally to treat COVID-19.

  • Trump said researchers were looking to effects of disinfectants
  • Lysol and Dettol issued a statement to combat "recent speculation"

Trump noted Thursday that researchers were looking at the effects of disinfectants on the virus and wondered if they could be injected into people, saying the virus “does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”

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That prompted a strong warning from the maker of disinfectants Lysol and Dettol, which said it was issuing a statement to combat “recent speculation.”

“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],” read the statement from Reckitt Benckiser.

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Researchers are testing the effect of disinfectants on virus-laden saliva and respiratory fluids in the laboratory, said William Bryan, who leads the Science and Technology Directorate at the Department of Homeland Security. They kill the virus very quickly, he said.

“And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning?” Trump said. “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. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds -- it sounds interesting to me.”

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Video of the news briefing shows Trump looking directly at task force member Dr. Deborah Birx. However, on Friday he said that’s not who he was speaking to when asked to clarify.

“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you, just to see what would happen,” the President said.

The CDC reiterated the warning on Twitter: 




Dr. Michael Teng, a USF professor of molecular medicine, also drove the point home when we asked him to weigh in on the DHS findings and the president's comments.

“Disinfectants are meant to be disinfecting surfaces. Not for disinfecting on the inside,” Teng said. “That’s what we have drugs for.”

Earlier this month, we spoke to Teng about a report sent to the White House by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. That report also acknowledged the affects of heat and humidity on coronavirus. 

But he pointed to other mitigating factors the report high lighted that he believes still hold true. 

"Really when we talk about decreasing half lives of these viruses by heat and humidity and UV light, it still takes time for the virus to die," he explained. "Just because the virus is not on the surface for 18 hours anymore, and it’s gone after an hour, that’s still one hour in which the virus can still infect.”

The president has throughout the crisis talked up prospects for new therapies and offered timelines for the development of a vaccine as he encourages states to move to reopen their economies.