British military scientists have discovered a common insect repellent can kill the Covid-19 virus.
In a series of experiments, scientists at the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, an agency of the Ministry of Defence, demonstrated that Mosi-guard Natural spray could kill the virus when used either as a spray or as a liquid.
The insect spray contains an ingredient called Citriodiol, which could be used to create a new protection against the virus. Citriodiol is already known to kill other types of coronavirus.
The DTSL was asked by the surgeon general and former NHS chief executive Peter Homa to examine whether the insect spray would work against the virus.
The scientists applied the chemical directly to the virus as a liquid drop and separately as a spray on synthetic latex skin.
The study found that at a higher concentration (90 per cent), Mosi-guard Natural destroyed the virus completely.
While viral studies on latex indicated that the spray had anti-viral activity, the report said the latex skin was impregnated with Mosi-guard, and while latex was a representative surface, it was unlikely to behave exactly as treated human skin.
The scientists wrote: "We have no data relating the concentration applied experimentally to the latex to that resulting from a spray and rub application of Mosi-guard on human skin."
When used as a spray it was less effective and while it still killed the virus and reduced its survival time, some virus survived.
The spray is unlikely to offer sufficient protection against Covid-19 droplets but could be used as an additional measure alongside face masks, gloves and other protective clothing.
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin said: “DSTL’s latest research shows that sprays containing Citriodiol, which have been made available to MOD units engaged in the Covid response, can kill the virus.
“We are sharing our preliminary findings today so others can take forward additional research to confirm and expand on our findings.
“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.”
The research paper is described as preliminary findings only and it is hoped the study will act as the basis for other investigations.
The DSTL has been part of the UK response to coronavirus since February and have been involved in testing patients, testing of PPE and researched how the virus survives in different environments.
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