The number of calls to poison control centres about disinfectant exposures related to COVID-19 was already on a surge months before Trump's comment.
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The number of calls to poison control centres about disinfectant exposures related to COVID-19 was already on a surge months before Trump's comment.As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released on 24 April 2020, the National Poison Data System (NPDS), the CDC, and the
At the White House coronavirus task force briefing on 23 April 2020, the acting undersecretary for Science and Technology Bill Bryan stated that the tests carried out with disinfectants and isopropyl alcohol showed that the coronavirus can be killed within five minutes. Later at the briefing, President Donald Trump had made a comment about whether the disinfectant can be injected into the body and lungs as a way of treatment.
American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) surveillance team compared the number of exposures reported from January to March 2020. During that period, poison centres received 45,550 exposure calls related to cleaners (28,158) and disinfectants (17,392), representing overall increases of 20.4% from the same period in the previous year. However, the report does not include data for April 2020 and it also acknowledged that there was no definite link between the exposures and COVID-19.
A tweet by Communications Director for the Maryland Governor stated that they had decided to post an alert after receiving more than 100 calls about disinfectant ingestion. The alert said that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body.
New York City said that its poison control centre received a higher-than-normal number of calls on the day after President Trump's statement. The city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said that in an 18-hour period, the poison control centre recorded 30 cases; 9 exposure to Lysol, 10 to bleach, and 11 to other household cleaners.
Illinois Poison Control said that they had received two calls about inappropriate exposure to disinfectants after Trump's comment. It also said that their hotline had increased by 36% during the pandemic.
Calls to the U.S. poison control centres about such exposures were already on a surge from January 2020. Different cities had reported an increase of such calls after Trump's comment with varied numbers. However, nationwide data for the same is not available as of now, and there is no evidence to establish a direct relationship to the increased number of calls to his suggestion. Hence it is misleading to assume as such.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.