Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is detectable in saliva from asymptomatic individuals, suggesting a potential benefit from the use of mouth rinses to suppress viral load and reduce virus spread. Published studies on the reduction of SARS-CoV-2-induced cytotoxic effects by mouth rinses do not exclude antiseptic mouth rinse-associated cytotoxicity. Here, we determined the effect of commercially available mouth rinses and antiseptic povidone-iodine on the infectivity of replication-competent SARS-CoV-2 viruses and of pseudotyped SARS-CoV-2 viruses. We first determined the effect of mouth rinses on cell viability to ensure that antiviral activity was not a consequence of mouth rinse-induced cytotoxicity. Colgate Peroxyl (hydrogen peroxide) exhibited the most cytotoxicity, followed by povidone-iodine, chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG), and Listerine (essential oils and alcohol). The potent antiviral activities of Colgate Peroxyl mouth rinse and povidone-iodine were the consequence of rinse-mediated cellular damage when the products were present during infection. The potency of CHG was greater when the product was not washed off after virus attachment, suggesting that the prolonged effect of mouth rinses on cells impacts the antiviral outcome. To minimalize mouth rinse-associated cytotoxicity, mouth rinse was largely removed from treated viruses by centrifugation prior to infection of cells. A 5% (v
) dilution of Colgate Peroxyl or povidone-iodine completely blocked viral infectivity. A similar 5% (v
) dilution of Listerine or CHG had a moderate suppressive effect on the virus, but a 50% (v
) dilution of Listerine or CHG blocked viral infectivity completely. Mouth rinses inactivated the virus without prolonged incubation. The new infectivity assay, with limited impacts of mouth rinse-associated cytotoxicity, showed the differential effects of mouth rinses on SARS-CoV-2 infection. Our results indicate that mouth rinses can significantly reduce virus infectivity, suggesting a potential benefit for reducing SARS-CoV-2 spread.
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