Carrageenan nasal spray may double the rate of recovery from coronavirus and influenza virus infections: Re-analysis of randomized trial data

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In this individual patient data meta-analysis we examined datasets of two randomized placebo-controlled trials which investigated the effect of nasal carrageenan separately on children and adults. In both trials, iota-carrageenan was administered nasally three times per day for 7 days for patients with the common cold and follow-up lasted for 21 days. We used Cox regression to estimate the effect of carrageenan on recovery rate. We also used quantile regression to calculate the effect of carrageenan on colds of differing lengths. Nasal carrageenan increased the recovery rate from all colds by 54% (95% CI 15%–105%; p = .003). The increase in recovery rate was 139% for coronavirus infections, 119% for influenza A infections, and 70% for rhinovirus infections. The mean duration of all colds in the placebo groups of the first four quintiles were 4.0, 6.8, 8.8, and 13.7 days, respectively. The fifth quintile contained patients with censored data. The 13.7-day colds were shortened by 3.8 days (28% reduction), and 8.8-day colds by 1.3 days (15% reduction). Carrageenan had no meaningful effect on shorter colds. In the placebo group, 21 patients had colds lasting over 20 days, compared with six patients in the carrageenan group, which corresponds to a 71% (p = .003) reduction in the risk of longer colds. Given that carrageenan has an effect on diverse virus groups, and effects at the clinical level on two old coronaviruses, it seems plausible that carrageenan may have an effect on COVID-19. Further research on nasal iota-carrageenan is warranted.