Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Injecting Disinfectant

Most folk with even a modicum of medical knowledge would have been appalled by the recent pronouncement of American President Donald Trump that injecting disinfectant into human bodies might be a way of killing the dangerous coronavirus COVID 19..

In his customary eloquent and articulate manner, Trump stated at his daily news conference “I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning, because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs.”

Now Disinfectants, as most of us know, are substances that are designed to kill or inactivate germs on inert surfaces. They are more powerful substances than Sanitizers, which are liquids or gels designed to clean and decrease the number of germs on the hands.

Disinfectants must be distinguished from Antibiotics (substances that kill germs within the body – for example Penicillin and Tetracycline) and Antiseptics (liquds such as Chlorhexidine and Povidine-iodine that can destroy germs on the surface of the body.

Naturally, since they are only designed for use on INERT surfaces, disinfectants are very powerful. They are only intended (as anybody who has read the label on a bottle of disinfectant knows) ‘FOR EXTERNAL USE’. Ingesting a powerful disinfectant MAY result in killing germs within the body – but is more likely to result in killing off the person who swallowed the disinfectant!

I remember a 1966 science fiction movie ‘Fantastic Voyage. This was long before endovascular surgery was even thought of – and at a time when we did not have sophisticated thrombolytic drugs, as we do today, that could be injected into the blood stream to dissolve clots.

In that 1966 movie, a famous scientist develops a blood clot in his brain. Contemporary surgery was considered too dangerous – so a submarine wth a small crew of experts was shrunk down to microscopic size and injected into the scientist’s blood stream so that the crew members could navigate through his blood stream, reach the clot and dissolve it. The miniaturized crew succeeded in dissolving the clot and saving the scientist’s life. It certainly was a fantastic story line – and a great movie – but it remained in the realm of science fiction.

Perhaps the American president gets his scientific ideas from watching science fiction movies like Fantastic Voyage and the like. But advising people to inject disinfectant is such a ludicrous idea that we can only laugh at his words – if it were not such a downright dangerous suggestion that could be taken seriously by some of his followers. .

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in an interview last week about his new book ‘A Bigger Picture’ recounted his last meeting in January 2016 with then US President Barack Obama. At that meeting in the American President’s office, Turnbull had been reassured by Obama “Don’t worry, Malcolm – the American peple will never elect a lunatic to sit in this office”.

Trump’s election in November 2016 took most of the world by surprise – and according to some accounts, even Trump was taken by surprise.

Sadly for the American people and the world, a person with absuolutely no idea of the difference between disinfectants and antibiotics, between science and science fiction, now occupies the Oval Office.

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Sanitizers are substances that simultaneously clean and disinfect.[2] Disinfectants kill more germs than sanitizers.[3] Disinfectants are frequently used in hospitals, dental surgeries, kitchens, and bathrooms to kill infectious organisms.

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