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Ingredient in insect repellent can kill Covid-19, MoD study finds

Danielle Sheridan

The TelegraphAugust 26, 2020, 9:00 AM

Dstl has shared the research in the hope that it 'acts as the foundation for other scientific bodies'

An ingredient in insect repellent can kill Covid-19, a study by the Ministry of Defence has found.

The preliminary research by scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) has found that Citriodiol may kill the strain of coronavirus which causes the virus.

Jeremy Quin, the defence minister, said the latest research “shows that sprays containing Citriodiol, which has been made available to the MoD units engaged in the Covid response, can kill the virus”.

The product is made from oil from the eucalyptus citriodora tree, and can be found in several popular insect repellents, including Mosi Guard.

In May Ben Wallace confirmed that the Armed Forces were using insect repellent to ward off coronavirus, due to the fact that “weaker Citriodiol spray solutions … have been found to provide a barrier against variants of the SARS virus”.

At the time Mr Quin, the defence minister, told the House of Commons: "We are aware that it was efficacious against SARS and there is no evidence as yet whether it is a useful against Covid-19."

However the study has now shown that Citriodiol is effective in certain situations.

Dstl said it had shared its research in the hope that it will “act as the foundation for other scientific bodies who are researching the virus and possible solutions”.

“Dstl is hopeful that the findings in this research can be used as a springboard for other organizations to expand and develop the research, as well as to confirm the findings in this publication,” it said.

Dstl said it conducted the research after it was tasked by the Surgeon General to determine the level of anti-viral activity of Mosi-guard Natural spray against Covid-19, of which Citriodiol is an ingredient.

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The complications linked to the coronavirus

The coronavirus is said to be mild in four out of five cases, with the vast majority of patients making a full recovery. Nevertheless, it is increasingly coming to light that a minority of patients develop lingering complications after the infection has been cleared from their body, with some scientists arguing post-COVID syndrome should be considered a condition in its own right. Post-viral fatigue can theoretically occur after fighting off any virus, while reduced muscle mass is common following a stint in intensive care. Pneumonia also leads to inflammation and scarring of lung tissue, which may leave patients short of breath or even with lasting damage. Recent studies have also linked the coronavirus to everything from hearing loss to temporary brain damage. Experts have stressed, however, it “remains to be seen” whether the ongoing outbreak leads to the same lasting complications as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

It found that one minute liquid suspension tests indicated that Mosi-guard Natural has anti-viral activity against Covid-19 if mixed with the virus, and said that viral studies on latex synthetic skin indicated that Mosi-guard Natural also had antiviral activity against the virus.

An MoD source cautioned that while things were in the preliminary stage “it’s definitely a good sign”.

Mr Quin added: “Defence has played a wide variety of roles in supporting efforts to tackle coronavirus. We are pleased that this is another example of Defence sourcing innovative ways to keep people safe.”