Ministry of Defence Testing Insect Repellent to See if Can Kill COVID-19

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) in the United Kingdom is said to be conducting tests to determine whether an insect repellant could be used to kill COVID-19.

Tests are underway at a laboratory in Porton Down, Wiltshire, to find out if citriodiol, the active ingredient in insect repellent which is known to be effective against some forms of coronavirus strain, will work against the strain that has resulted in the current pandemic.

However, the move has raised concerns among MPs, with the SNP's Stewart McDonald writing on Twitter: "This move by @DefenceHQ is welcome, but it raises more questions than it answers.

"Why wasn't this product tested before it was issued, did it involve the MoD ethics committee and who, ultimately, signed this off?"

McDonald is also understood to have asked to see the evidence the MoD based its conclusions on before deciding to use insect repellents.

According to a letter he sent to the Ministry of Defence officials, he wrote: "If this is based on science, it is vital that the evidence is made public and all frontline workers are given the same advice.

"If there is no evidence that it will be effective, then the MoD must explain why this product is being issued, creating a false sense of security and putting lives at risk.

"Clarity on this matter is of the greatest urgency."

Ministry of Defence testing insect repellent
Bug spray is already seen in all sorts of situations, like here in a golf tournament, but the MoD hopes it might be able to work against COVID-19. Getty

It comes after Sky News reported last week that troops had been issued with an insect repellent spray, Mosi Guard, to offer an added layer of protection against the virus.

The spray would be used in conjunction with other measures such as hand washing and social distancing.

However, the Ministry of Defense has said it will not be part of a widespread roll out.

The World Health Organization has said there is no evidence the virus can be transmitted by mosquitoes and that an insect repellent would be ineffective.

An MoD spokesperson said: "Citriodiol is known to have anti-viral properties and has been used as a barrier against the SARS 1 virus.

"Its utility for protecting against COVID-19 is therefore being explored by the Ministry of Defence as an additional protective measure for personnel working on the response.

"Further work is required to determine its full effectiveness, acquisition and distribution."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.