US President Donald Trump’s remarks that disinfectants could potentially treat coronavirus patients remaining in the news after four days of them being made was “bothering”, a key member of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus has said.
“I think it bothers me that this is still in the news cycle, because I think we’re missing the bigger pieces of what we need to be doing, as American people, to continue to protect one another,” Dr Deborah Brix, member of the White House Task Force on Coronavirus, told CNN in an interview.
Donald Trump on Wednesday had suggested the possibility of studying injecting disinfectants into Covid-19 patients or bringing UV light “inside” their bodies to kill the deadly virus, drawing immediate flak from health experts while a leading disinfectant producer urged people not to listen to such dangerous speculation.
Brix, a leading doctor specialising in HIV/AIDS immunology, said the dialogue should focus on asymptomatic cases and not on the president’s remarks.
“We should be having that dialogue about this unique clotting that we’re seeing. We are the first country that really had young people to this degree. Italy and Europe is about eight years older than us, as a median age.
“So, this is the first experience of this virus in an open society, where we really can understand what’s happening to every different age group. These are the things that we should be talking about and focusing on,” Brix said.
“As a scientist and a public health official and a researcher, sometimes, I worry that we don’t get the information to the American people that they need, when we continue to bring up something that was from Thursday night,” she said.
Responding to a question, Brix said Trump made it clear that physicians must study his idea.
“I think I have made it clear that this was a musing. But I want us to move on to be able to get information to the American people that can help them protect each other and also help them understand how devastating this virus is to different age groups and different symptoms and different comorbidities,” she said.
Dr Brix said that she is “always concerned” when asked about a potential surge in new cases and deaths after many states have started taking actions to open up their economy.
“I’m always concerned. And that’s why we put out key, key gating criteria. And that gating criteria was not only looking at the epidemic. It was looking at the health care workers and making sure that the health care workers were protected. And it was also looking at capacity within the hospitals,” she said.
Noting that over the last few weeks there is a better understand how much asymptomatic cases and asymptomatic spread may be out there, Dr Brix underscored the need for sentinel surveillance, monitoring proactively in long-term care facilities, in inner-city clinics that have multi-generational households, in prisons, among Native Americans, to really ensure to find the virus before people even get symptoms.
“And that’s a key part of this also that, sometimes, I think is missing when we’re talking about diagnosis and contact tracing. We also have to diagnose the virus before it is evident in communities,” she said.
The coronavirus, which originated in China’s Wuhan city, has claimed over 2,00,000 lives and infected nearly 3 million people in the world so far. There are nearly a million confirmed coronavirus cases with over 54,000 deaths in the US.