Trust Index: Can disinfectant injections and sunlight kill coronavirus? President Trump is curious

COVID-19 wreaks havoc on health care systems, economy, communities

President Donald Trump listens during a briefing about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, April 23, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) (Alex Brandon, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – The coronavirus has taken the world by storm -- in the worst imaginable way possible. As a novel disease, or an illness that has not been previously identified by scientists, COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on health care systems, the economy, communities and families.

Because the world had never seen this particular strain of coronavirus until recently, it was quick, lethal and not fully understood.

As of Friday, the Centers for Disease Control reports there have been 828,441 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, as well as 46,379 deaths caused by the novel disease. The CDC reports that these figures account for cases and deaths across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Scientists and researchers have been tasked in a recently unprecedented way to manufacture tests, treatments and, ultimately, a cure for the disease that had never been identified before its death toll climbed.

Researchers are racing toward developing a vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infections, but there isn’t a consistent timeline for when the vaccine could hit markets. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has said the development of a COVID-19 vaccine could take anywhere from 12 to 18 months.

[READ MORE: How long will it take to have a vaccine for COVID-19?]

Hydroxychloroquine, a drug initially created to treat malaria, has recently been used in a trial capacity to treat coronavirus, although there has be push and pull between scientists and doctors on whether the drug is effective and safe in treating COVID-19.

In light of the rapid search for treatments and answers in fighting COVID-19, President Donald Trump said in a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing Thursday that he wondered if pursuing injectable disinfectants and the benefits of sunlight would be useful as potential treatments for COVID-19.

Watch the video below for context of Trump’s remarks regarding the possibilities of new treatments:

In the same news briefing, Trump reiterated that he is not a doctor, and that injectable disinfectants and light therapies as cures for COVID-19 were ideas he was considering exploring further. You can view the video below for context:

News 6 used its Trust Index initiative to take a closer look at these suggestions to determine if injectable disinfectants and sunlight could be a treatment for coronavirus.

Emergency Medicine Physician Rajiv Bahl, MD, told News 6 that ingesting any type of disinfectant is incredibly dangerous to human health, no matter how it enters the human body.

“Patients will get incredibly sick and depending on the concentration and the amount consumed, some may even die because of it,” Bahl said. “These chemicals are very strong - strong enough to kill bacteria and viruses on hard and non-living surfaces in minutes, however they are too strong for the human body’s internal use and can not only make people sick. They have the potential to breakdown the lining of some human organs.”

Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, also weighed in on the prospect of injecting disinfectants, and said any instance of such ingestion is immediate grounds for emergency treatment.

“Injection of anything is very dangerous, and if intravenously (into a vein), potentially life-threatening. Intramuscular injection would be very painful, and could cause a lot of local damage to skin, muscle and tissues, depending on the amount and concentration of what is injected,” Aleguas said. If [someone does] ingest a disinfectant, dilute with plain water and call your poison center."

A poison center can be reached anywhere in the United States and U.S. possessions (US Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, etc.), via the Poison Help number at 800-222-1222, according to Aleguas. Poison control specialists are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for free, confidential information and exposure management. Aleguas said phones are always answered by highly trained nurses, pharmacists and physicians.

Aleguas said the reason disinfectants cannot be used within the human body comes down to the fact that skin and mucus membranes are very different from hard surfaces on which disinfectants are commonly used.

“They are living tissues, and contact with cleaning products not made for this type of use causes damage and the downstream effects of pain, infection, and loss or diminished function,” Aleguas said. “The topical (surface) disinfectants made for your skin (think of skin antiseptics like witch hazel, or Sea Breeze Skin Cleanser) are mild, but effective.”

In response to the president’s thoughts in the news conference, the parent company of Lysol warned Friday that its products should not be used as an internal treatment for the coronavirus.

“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),” said the statement from Reckitt Benckiser.

The Trust Index on any information suggesting disinfectants should be used as a bodily cure for COVID-19 is NOT TRUE.

Not True

After reviewing this topic, we've found some issues - It's Not True.

As far as using sunlight or solar light to treat COVID-19, News 6 found that experts advise against it as treatment for COVID-19.

“Sunlight can make you feel better when you are sick, however it is not the treatment of choice or even a primary modality to treat or rid the body of viruses, including COVID-19,” Bahl said. “While some early findings may show that heat and humidity may possibly work, these finding must be taken with caution. You must have high temperatures and humidity levels to see any effects. Most of the world does not have these ideal conditions.”

Bahl also said that while being out in the sun can feel good when you are sick, there is a higher propensity for other disastrous effects.

“When most people are sick, they already do not have an appetite and are many times dehydrated and not meeting the body’s demands for nutrition,” Bahl said. “Putting the added stress of sunlight on the body can sometimes only make the disease process worse if not handled in the right way.”

The Trust Index on any information suggesting sunlight may be able to help cure coronavirus should be taken with caution, so BE CAREFUL.

Be Careful

After reviewing this topic, we've found some issues - Be Careful.

On Friday, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins tweeted that President Trump said his comments were just sarcastic remarks.

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About the Author:

Erin began her career at News 6 as an assignment editor, then became a show producer. She is now a digital storyteller as part of the Click Orlando team.