The statement from the multinational consumer goods firm came after the president floated dangerous treatment theories at a White House news conference Thursday evening, and urged administration officials to explore the potential application of disinfectants to Covid-19 patients.
But pressed on his remarks at a White House event Friday, Trump claimed he was only “sarcastically” asking reporters about the efficacy of disinfectants “to see what would happen.”
That explanation contradicted a statement released just hours earlier by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who argued the widespread criticism Trump received for his medical counsel was unwarranted and accused the news media of distorting the president’s message.
“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,” McEnany said. “Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
McEnany’s defense of the president, however, did not reflect the reality of the Trump’s remarks Thursday, which explicitly encouraged further scientific study of the use of disinfectants on those who had fallen ill with the coronavirus.
“And then 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?” 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 you’re going to have to use medical doctors with — but it sounds interesting to me.”
The American Cleaning Institute, which represents the manufacturers and formulators of various cleaning products, also published a news release Friday “in response to speculation about the use of disinfectants in or on one’s body.”
“Disinfectants are meant to kill germs or viruses on hard surfaces. Under no circumstances should they ever be used on one’s skin, ingested or injected internally,” the ACI said. “We remind everyone to please use all hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting products as directed in order to ensure safe, effective and intended use of those products.”
Even Surgeon General Jerome Adams appeared to caution against the president’s advice, reminding Americans in a tweet to “PLEASE always talk to your health provider first before administering any treatment/medication to yourself or a loved one.”
“Your safety is paramount, and doctors and nurses are have years of training to recommend what’s safe and effective,” Adams wrote.
Rep. Will Hurd of Texas on Friday was one of the first Republican lawmakers to break with the White House over Trump’s enthusiasm for disinfectants, saying elected officials should “leave the guidance on health to health professionals.”
“Nobody should drink disinfectant,” Hurd told MSNBC. “I think that’s pretty clear, and we should be listening to doctors and scientists on this issue. I’m not listening to any politician on health-related issues.”
Nevertheless, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency reported Friday having “received several calls regarding questions about disinfectant use” and the coronavirus. “This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route,” the agency tweeted.
The president’s controversial comments at Thursday’s briefing were not the first time he has doled out dubious prescriptions for fighting the coronavirus.
Trump fiercely championed hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old malaria medication, since the early days of the disease’s outbreak in the United States, but conspicuously refrained from invoking the drug during public appearances in recent weeks.
A nationwide study of hydroxychloroquine’s use in U.S. veterans hospitals released Tuesday revealed there were more deaths among Covid-19 patients given the drug versus standard care, and the Food and Drug Administration warned Friday that hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine should be used only in hospitals or clinical trials because of dangerous side effects.
Another drug often advocated by the president, the antiviral medication remdesivir, also showed no benefit in results from a clinical trial that were mistakenly posted to the World Health Organization’s website Thursday.