Iota-Carrageenan Inhibits Replication of the SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern Omicron BA.1, BA.2 and BA.5
Even with its endemic transition, the COVID-19 pandemic remains a public health threat, particularly in the light of emerging variants of concern (VoCs) and the need for pandemic preparedness in the future. In November 2021, the SARS-CoV-2 VoC Omicron emerged and its subvariants BA.1, BA.2 and BA.5 became predominant. Although the protease inhibitor Paxlovid ® and the polymerase inhibitors Molnupiravir and Remdesivir were approved as specific antiviral treatment options for COVID-19 patients in the early stages after infection, effective prophylactically acting substances without adverse effects are not available yet. In a recent study, we demonstrated that iota-carrageenan, a sulfated polysaccharide extracted from red seaweed, efficiently inhibits the replication of the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan Type and the VoCs Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. Now, we extended this study by investigating the antiviral effects of iota-, lambda- and kappa-carrageenans on the VoC Omicron subvariants BA.1, BA.2 and BA.5. Using a VoC Omicron BA.1 spike pseudotyped murine leukemia virus (BA.1 MLV OM VLP) as well as patient-derived SARS-CoV-2 Omicron isolates BA.1, BA.2 and BA.5 (SARS-CoV-2 OM BA.1 , SARS-CoV-2 OM BA.2 and SARS-CoV-2 OM BA.5 ), we demonstrate that iota-carrageenan exhibits similar antiviral activity against all analyzed Omicron subvariants. As with other VoCs shown before, the biologically inert iota-carrageenan was more efficient than kappa- and lambda-carrageenan. Altogether, these results confirm that, independent of the current and potential future variants, the physical barrier provided by iota-carrageenan might be applicable for prophylaxis and early treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infections.