Coronavirus: Defence Secretary Confirms Insect Spray Has Been Issued To Personnel

Ben Wallace said a Citriodiol-based spray has been given to "each of the 10 Joint Military Commands" as protection against COVID-19.

The Defence Secretary has confirmed British service personnel are using an insect repellent as protection against coronavirus.

Ben Wallace was responding to a letter from the Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood, asking him for clarification following reports the solution was being used by the Armed Forces as protection during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his response, Mr Wallace said "enhanced Force Health Protection Measures have been introduced" and "each of the 10 Joint Military Commands" have been issued a Citriodiol-based spray.

Those commands, he said, "have been delegated the authority to provide to their personnel wherever required".

It was confirmed last month that scientists at Porton Down were testing the repellent containing Citriodiol, which is a natural insect repellent extracted from Eucalyptus, to gauge how effective it was against the coronavirus strain responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID19 Coronavirus test kit is posted through the car window at the Mobile Testing Unit in Kendal 250420 CREDIT MOD
Personnel have been tasked with conducting mobile coronavirus tests in recent weeks (Picture: MOD).

The letter from the Defence Secretary went on to outline advice from the Surgeon General that, in lieu of conclusive test results, the substance would "do no harm" and should be used in a precautionary way, "as an additional layer of protection against exposure to COVID-19."

Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, 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."

There are 20,000 military personnel on standby as part of the 'COVID Support Force', including more than 1,000 who have been carrying out mobile coronavirus tests.