Rare look at secret Covid work at Wiltshire's Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Sally Simmonds


With more than 100 years experience dealing with hazardous substances, Porton Down near Salisbury was ready for coronavirus.

Over the past year they have grown it, tested it and analysed it in a myriad of ways to help us all stay safe.

Since 1916 the site in Wiltshire has dealt with all kinds of deadly substances, from nerve agents, to anthrax, to ebola.


This organisation is about dealing with threats, those threats will and are evolving and they change, and it's important that this organisation changes it's approaches to meet those threats head on.

Professor Tim Atkins, Senior Technical Fellow, DSTL

Credit: ITV News Meridian

Researchers have developed a fake finger to find out how long the virus lasts on a surface.

They are also looking at smartwatch technology to detect early signs of infection.

Porton Down is not open to visitors, but they handle deadly substances, so that we can stay alive.


  • Amanda Phelps, Lead Virologist, DSTL


I didn't appreciate I'd be spending up to 12 months working on one fundamental research piece - disinfectants, I've spent a long time doing a lot of tests, They do work, they do kill virus and we can see this very clearly under our microscopes and in some of the other tests we're conducting.

Amanda Phelps, Lead Virologist, DSTL