Could insect repellent also neutralise coronavirus? MOD hands mosquito spray to soldiers on Covid front line as 'additional layer of protection' saying it would 'do no harm'

The Ministry of Defence is handing mosquito spray to soldiers on the Covid front line as an 'additional layer of protection' saying it can 'do no harm' amid claims it could neutralise coronavirus.  
Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace said a Citriodiol-based spray has been given to personnel in light of the Surgeon General's advice it wouldn't do any harm.
The MP said it should be used on a precautionary basis as against exposure to the virus.
Mr Wallace's confirmation of the use of the spray came in response to a letter from the chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, who wrote to him asking for details on the use of the spray last month.
Citriodiol, found in Mosi-guard, has previously proved effective at killing other coronaviruses, including SARS, by destroying the layer which surrounds the virus. MoD tests will seek to determine if citriodiol can also kill the SARS-CoV-2 virus which has killed more than a quarter of a million people around the world so far
The Defence Secretary said: 'Weaker Citriodiol spray solutions form a barrier on the skin and have been found to provide a barrier against variants of the Sars virus similar to that causing the current pandemic.
'It is not possible to confirm the number of Armed Forces personnel who have used the product, but Defence has provided a Citriodiol-based spray to each of the 10 Joint Military Commands, which have been delegated the authority to provide to their personnel wherever required.

'The MoD does not implement such measures without rigorous examination of their effectiveness and suitability.
'Following consultation with subject matter experts, including infectious disease consultants, pathology advisers, and public health experts, the Surgeon General advised that, albeit in lieu of conclusive research, Citriodiol would do no harm and should be used on a precautionary basis, as an additional layer of protection against exposure to Covid-19.
'Providing Citriodiol to other essential workers outside Defence, such as those in the NHS, would be a matter for the bodies employing those essential workers.
'The Surgeon General has informed the chief and deputy chief medical officers for England of his approach.
'The Surgeon General has also tasked DSTL with a further study to understand specific details of the utility of Citriodiol against Covid-19.'
Mr Ellwood said: 'I'm pleased to have received a response from the Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace, as well as the promise of further updates, following reports that the insect repellent Citriodiol is being tested on our troops.
'The Defence Committee looks forward to hearing more from the Department and hopes that any research on the effectiveness of Citriodiol is shared with key institutions and the public as we continue our fight against coronavirus.' 
Citriodiol, found in Mosi-guard, has previously proved effective at killing other coronaviruses, including SARS, by destroying the layer which surrounds the virus. 
COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus strain closely related to SARS — which caused a pandemic in 2003 — called SARS-CoV-2. 
The chemical is resistant to evaporation and, if it was proven to be effective against the virus, could offer protection for several hours. Regular handwashing with soap and existing anti-virals do kill the virus but do not provide this long-term protection. 
The insect repellent has been undergoing official tests at the government's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down.
Government tests have been approved and Mosi-guard is being offered to some MoD personnel while the results come back. The insect repellent is an option and not obligatory, and the MoD insists it has not been formally rolled out. Pictured, Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' hospital
Government tests have been approved and Mosi-guard is being offered to some MoD personnel while the results come back. The insect repellent is an option and not obligatory, and the MoD insists it has not been formally rolled out. Pictured, Members of the 101 Logistic Brigade deliver a consignment of medical masks to St Thomas' hospital
It was revealed last month that Mosi-guard was given to some soldiers as part of enhanced measures to halt the spread of COVID-19.  
An MoD spokesperson told MailOnline at the time: '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.'
It comes after calls from the manufacturer of Mosi-guard, a Leeds-based company called Citrefine, urged the government to consider its product earlier this week. 
No official plan has been laid out for how the insect repellant chemical would be issued to people if it is found to be effective against the novel coronavirus. Jacqueline Watson, managing director of Citrefine, told Sky News it would most likely be prioritised for people working on the coronavirus frontline. Pictured, a Chinook landingnear an ambulance on the Isle of Wight to test methods of patient transferal to the mainland
No official plan has been laid out for how the insect repellant chemical would be issued to people if it is found to be effective against the novel coronavirus. Jacqueline Watson, managing director of Citrefine, told Sky News it would most likely be prioritised for people working on the coronavirus frontline. Pictured, a Chinook landingnear an ambulance on the Isle of Wight to test methods of patient transferal to the mainland
In a statement from Citrefine, a spokesperson admitted to MailOnline there is currently no data proving the chemical is effective against this specific virus. 
It reads: 'Citrefine has not tested Citriodiol against SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 
'We therefore are very pleased with the news that MoD scientists are to implement a formal testing programme. 
'If Citriodiol can be used safely and effectively, we would welcome the opportunity to help in this current crisis.'
The company explains it is the chemical's resistance to evaporation which makes it an effective insect repellent.
British health official warns virus will 'definitely come back'
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This, the company suggests, could offer protection from viruses over a number of hours, which is uncommon for anti-viral agents. 
The chemical would not be effective against inhalation, but could kill the virus on surfaces or on a person's skin, for example. 
Now, tests have been approved and Mosi-guard is being offered to some MoD personnel while the results come back. 
The insect repellent is being given to some soldiers as an option and is not obligatory, and the MoD insists it has not been formally rolled out.  
There is also no guidance on how to best use the insect repellent, as there is no credible evidence currently available to inform decision-making. The MoD tests will hopefully provide this information.  

Should citriodiol be effective at killing the virus and offering long-term protection, it is designed to be used in conjunction with pre-existing protocols and PPE, not to replace any pre-existing measures. 
The experiments will hopefully discern if citriodiol can kill the virus, how it should be applied and how long it can be effective for. 
It remains unknown where and to who the chemical would be rolled-out if it is found to be effective against SARS-CoV-2.   
No official plan has been laid out, but Jacqueline Watson, managing director of Citrefine, told Sky News it would most likely be prioritised for people working on the coronavirus frontline.
Some politicians have expressed concern at the trials. In separate letters, politicians asked Defence Secretary Ben Wallace for more details and clarification. 
Chief among their concerns are why, with such little evidence, are resources being diverted to this endeavour. 
Stewart McDonald of the Scottish National Party asked to see the evidence that informed the MoD's decision.    
The letter states: '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.'
Jamie Stone of the Liberal Democrats wrote in his letter: 'The over-riding point is that if your decision has been taken on the basis of sound scientific evidence, then why are other frontline workers not also being provided with citriodiol?'
Could insect repellent also neutralise coronavirus? MOD hands mosquito spray to soldiers on Covid front line as 'additional layer of protection' saying it would 'do no harm' Could insect repellent also neutralise coronavirus? MOD hands mosquito spray to soldiers on Covid front line as 'additional layer of protection' saying it would 'do no harm' Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 07:33 Rating: 5

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