A commercial insect repellent is being tested by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to see if it can kill the new coronavirus that doesn't cause the current pandemic.
Citriodiol, found in Mosi guard, has previously been effective in killing other coronaviruses, including SARS, by destroying the layer that surrounds the virus.
COVID-19 is caused by a strain of coronavirus closely related to SARS – which caused a pandemic in 2003 – called SARS-CoV-2.
The tests at the Government Laboratory of Defense Science and Technology (DSTL) at Porton Down will determine if citriodiol can also eliminate the strain of coronavirus that has killed more than a quarter million people around the world to date.
The chemical is resistant to evaporation and, if proven to be effective against the virus, could provide protection for several hours. Regular hand washing with soap and existing antivirals kill the virus, but do not provide this long-term protection.
Sky News reports that the insect repellent is now undergoing official testing at the Government Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) of the government in Porton Down.
Last week it was revealed that Mosi guard was given to some soldiers as part of improved measures to stop COVID-19 spread.
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Citriodiol, found in Mosi guard, has previously been effective in killing other coronaviruses, including SARS, by destroying the layer that surrounds the virus. MoD tests will try to determine if citriodiol can also kill the SARS CoV-2 virus that has killed more than a quarter of a million people around the world to date
How citriodiol could fight coronavirus
Citriodiol is a chemical that actively repels insects. It has long been widely used in commercial repellents.
It comes from & # 39; leaves of & # 39; eucalyptus citriodora tree, native to Asia, South America and Africa.
Previous studies have found that the chemical can also kill the SARS virus, which caused a pandemic nearly 20 years ago.
It remains unknown if the chemical can destroy SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to COVID-19, but the two viruses are closely related.
Diet, another common chemical used to keep bugs away, is not believed to be effective against coronavirus.
Mosi-guard, the commercial product that contains citriodiol, is not available at Boots or Superdrug, but can be purchased online.
The company that produces the product in & # 39; UK, Citrefine International Ltd, based in Leeds, is calling on the government to test the product and see if it is effective.
The Ministry of Defense is believed to be undergoing tests to determine just that.
An MoD spokeswoman told MailOnline: & # 39; Citriodiol is known to have anti-viral properties and has been used as a barrier against the SARS 1 virus.
& # 39; The utility for protecting against COVID-19 is therefore being investigated by the Ministry of Defense as an additional safeguard for personnel working on the response.
& # 39; Further work is needed to determine its full effectiveness, acquisition and distribution. & # 39;
It comes after calls from & # 39; manufacturer of Mosi-guard, a Leeds-based company called Citrefine, urged the government to consider its product earlier this week.
In a statement from Citrefine, a spokesman admitted to MailOnline there is currently no data that does not prove that the chemical is effective against this specific virus.
It reads: & # 39; Citrefine has not tested Citriodiol against SARS CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
& # 39; We are therefore very pleased with the news that MoD scientists will implement a formal testing program.
& # 39; If Citriodiol can be used safely and effectively, we would welcome the opportunity to help with this current crisis. & # 39;
The company claims it is resistant to & # 39; chemical against evaporation, making it an effective insect repellent.
This, the company suggests, could provide protection against viruses over several hours, which is unusual for anti-viral agents.
The chemical would not be effective against inhalation, but could, for example, kill the virus on surfaces or on a person's skin.
Now tests have been approved and Mosi guard is being offered to some MoD staff while the results are returning.
The insect repellent is given as an option to some soldiers and is not required, and the MoD suggests that it is not formally rounded.
Also, there is no guide on how to best use the insect repellent, as there is currently no credible evidence to inform decisions. The MoD tests will hopefully provide this information.
Government tests have been approved and Mosi guard is being offered to some MoD staff while the results are returning. The insect repellent is an option and not mandatory, and the MoD recommends that it is not formally expired. Pictured, Members of the 101st Logistic Brigade deliver a medical mask to St Thomas Hospital
No official plan has been laid out as to how the injectable repellant chemical would be issued to humans if it is found to be effective against the new coronavirus. Jacqueline Watson, CEO of Citrefine, told Sky News that it would probably take precedence for people who & # 39; re working on & # 39; the coronavirus frontline. Pictured, a Chinook landing night an ambulance on the Isle of Wight to test methods of transferring patients to the mainland
If citriodiol is effective in killing the virus and provides long-term protection, it is designed to be used in conjunction with pre-existing protocols and PPEs, to replace any pre-existing measures.
The experiments will hopefully distinguish if citriol can kill the virus, how it should be applied and how long it can be effective for.
It remains unknown where and to whom the chemical would be rolled out if it is found effective against SARS-CoV-2.
No official plan has been laid out, but Jacqueline Watson, CEO of Citrefine, told Sky News that it would probably be a priority for people who & # 39; re working on & # 39; the coronavirus frontline.
Some politicians have expressed concern about the trials. In separate letters, politician Defense Secretary Ben Wallace asked for more details and clarification.
Chief among their concerns is why with such little evidence means being renamed to this endeavor.
Stewart McDonald of the Scottish National Party requested evidence to show that the decision of & # 39; e MoD informed.
The letter states: & # 39; If this is based on science, it is essential that the evidence is made public and all workers of & # 39; e frontline get the same advice.
& # 39; If there is no proof that it will be effective, then the MoD should explain why this product is released, creating a false sense of security and endangering life.
& # 39; Clarity on this matter is from & # 39; the greatest urgency. & # 39;
Jamie Stone of & # 39; Liberal Democrats wrote in his letter: & # 39; The overriding point is that if your decision is made on the basis of sound scientific evidence, why aren't other frontline workers also provided with citriodiol? & # 39;
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