Insect Spray Could Help Tackle Coronavirus. Here's How.

The Armed Forces are being given the spray as an “additional layer of protection” against Covid-19.

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An insect repellent usually used to ward off mosquitoes could help tackle coronavirus, a new study suggests, after scientists found an ingredient in the spray may have anti-viral properties against Covid-19.

Scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), which works under the Ministry of Defence, tested the compound Citriodiol, which is found in the insect spray Mosi-guard Natural.

Citriodiol is derived from the oil of the plant Eucalyptus citriodora – also known as lemon eucalyptus or lemon-scented gum. It’s often marketed as a natural alternative to DEET.

Laboratory results indicate Citriodiol could “reduce the amount of virus detectable in a sample”.

In May, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed insect repellent was being given to the Armed Forces to offer potential protection against coronavirus.

For the latest study, the scientists assessed the spray’s anti-viral activity when applied directly to the virus as a liquid drop, and also assessed the product following its application to latex synthetic skin, when the material is exposed to the virus.

Although the spray appeared to decrease the amount of the virus detectable, it did not eradicate it altogether. However, the study found that at a higher concentration (90%), Mosi-guard Natural gave a “significant decrease of the virus”.

It’s early days for the research, though, and the scientists pointed out that a study conducted on synthetic skin will not necessarily translate to human skin.

DSTL is hopeful the results can be used as a springboard for other organisations to expand and develop the research, as well as to confirm the findings in this publication.

Defence minister Jeremy Quin said: “We are sharing our preliminary findings today so others can take forward additional research to confirm and expand on our findings.”

He said a Citriodiol-based spray had been given to army personnel in light of the Surgeon General’s advice that it would “do no harm” and should be used on a precautionary basis as an “additional layer of protection” against exposure to the virus.