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The Donald and the disinfectant

On the Edge

‘SO FAR I SEEM TO BE OKAY’ Trump at the May 18 press conference, when he said he is taking hydroxychloroquine despite FDA warnings.

On The Edge
Áine Ryan

DESPITE the hiatus, On the Edge is happy to confirm that this column still remains rather partial to examining the ongoing shenanigans of the ‘Orange Oompa Loompa’ at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
On this occasion my quill became concentrated on My Favourite Person of Interest after inadvertently spraying way too much disinfectant on my hands. Well, I had just brought six bars of dark chocolate and three bottles of Côte Rôtie’s bargain Syrah out of self-isolation from the bunker at the end of the garden.
My poor hands were already callused and cut and at a disadvantage having hewed down a mountain ash earlier in the day – okay only joking. I did move logs from one sheltered spot to another though. I find going around in circles is very therapeutic for lockdown ennui.
But back to bleach and the Donald.
It is hard to comprehend how the President of the United States could be so dumb and continue to get away with it. Imagine a month ago, with 50,327 deaths from Covid-19 and counting, he held a press briefing where he suggested that bleach or disinfectant could be injected into people with the disease as a treatment for coronavirus.
This is what he mused about on April 24: “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on it.”  
Unsurprisingly, medical experts around the globe were aghast.       
He claimed afterwards, with his pouty spoiled brat face, that he was only being ‘sarcastic’ and was trying to wind up reporters. A cursory look at the footage says otherwise. You have to laugh.  
This is what a leading pulmonologist told NBC news: “This notion of injecting or ingesting any type of cleansing product into the body is irresponsible and it’s dangerous. It’s a common method that people utilise when they want to kill themselves.”
Meanwhile, let’s fast-forward four weeks – and the death-toll from Covid-19 has now climbed to 86,000 people in the US – and Trump is now championing another dodgy idea. He told reporters last week that he is taking anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to ward off coronavirus. This is despite the fact that the regulators warn it can cause heart problems.
Indeed, the Director of the Pan American Health Organization, part of WHO, has stressed that no clinical trials have recommended hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus.
Once again he left reporters wide-mouthed when he told them: “You’d be surprised at how many people are taking it, especially the frontline workers, before you catch it, the frontline workers, many, many are taking it. I happen to be taking it.”
Adding: “I’ve heard a lot of good stories [about hydroxychloroquine] and if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right, I’m not going to get hurt by it.”
To be fair, when questioned, his White House physician, Dr Sean Conley, said on balance and after several discussions with Trump, he had concluded that ‘the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks’. However, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory note during April warning that hydroxychloroquine has ‘not been shown to be safe and effective’. Nevertheless, it has given a temporary authorisation for its use in some cases in a hospital setting. There are also clinical trials underway.
But surely the point is that a President, who clearly has huge influence over the 62,984,828 people who voted for him in 2016, should not be casually promoting any drugs – whether clinically approved or not.
It is outside his remit.
Droll Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi got it in one when she told CNN: “He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and in his, shall we say, weight group – morbidly obese, they say.”
Ah yes, methinks Dear Old Donald should be sticking to his golf swing, folks.