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Doctor responds to Trump's comments on injecting disinfectant: "Categorically, absolutely, positively, no"

Dangers of unproven COVID-19 treatments
Dangers of unproven COVID-19 treatments 08:17

President Trump alarmed health experts when he suggested injecting disinfectant and exposing the body to UV light rays might help fight the coronavirus at a Thursday task force briefing. (On Friday, Mr. Trump claimed he was being sarcastic). Dr. Bob Lahita, chairman of medicine at St. Joseph University Hospital, called the president's public suggestions a "mistake" in an interview on CBSN.

"There is no disinfectant-like treatment that is injected into the body. Categorically, absolutely, positively, no," he told CBSN anchors Vladimir Duthiers and Anne-Marie Green. "And as far as UV light goes, there are no treatments except perhaps for psoriasis, done under the guidance of a dermatologist." 

Lahita denied that disinfectant was in any way OK for internal use, pointing out that "it's a very deadly thing" and said drinking bleach was something found in suicide attempts.

"God forbid you should breathe in Lysol in great amounts or inject it into yourself or bleach," he said. "I would not even rub it on my skin because it has that degree of toxicity."

Mr. Trump suggested that ultraviolet rays entering the body may help treat COVID-19 after an emerging study by the Department of Homeland Security found that the virus' lifespan on a surface or in the air could be significantly shortened by exposure to sunlight and humidity.

"Ultraviolet light is not healthy, particularly UVB," Lahita said.

He acknowledged that UV light is effective in killing bacteria and viruses, but only when applied to "surfaces like cardboard or wood or steel, and certainly sunlight for your boxes in front of your house, on your porch that are being delivered."

However, he pointed out that UV light is dangerous to humans and is known to cause skin cancer.

"It is dangerous when used excessively. So in the environment, yeah, I guess sunlight will kill the virus. High humidity will kill the virus," he said before stressing that its use on humans "is not recommended."

Lahita concluded, "you don't sit under an ultraviolet lamp unless you're one of these people that goes to a tanning salon for five minutes and tries to get a tan."

Asked about the president's past remarks touting hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment, Lahita responded that not only was it "not very effective" and even "negative" based on his own hospital's experience using it to treat COVID-19, but that his "patients who need it can't get it" due to the spike in demand.

"I have many, many patients that are on Plaquenil or hydroxychloroquine — that's the other name for it — and they cannot get it. The pharmacies are out of it. And they require it for their diseases like lupus, in some cases rheumatoid arthritis and a condition called anti-phospholipid syndrome where the blood clots prematurely, so they cannot get this drug," he said.

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