The Arcturus Covid variant is a newly identified strain of the coronavirus that is causing concern among health officials globally. This variant, also known as XBB.1.16, is highly transmissible and has been linked to a surge in cases in several countries, including the United States, Singapore, and Australia.
SYMPTOMS OF ARCTURUS VARIANT
According to Dr. Vipin Vashishtha, the Arcturus variant has several symptoms that are similar to other variants of the coronavirus. These symptoms include fever, cough, and fatigue. However, the Arcturus variant has been linked to a new symptom in children that is rarely seen in other Omicron sub-variants – “itchy” conjunctivitis or pinkeye. Conjunctivitis has previously been reported as a Covid symptom, but the Arcturus variant seems to have a higher incidence of this symptom in children.
POTENTIAL SHIFT IN VIRUS’S SYMPTOM SET
The emergence of new symptoms associated with the Arcturus variant has raised concerns among health officials. However, Richard Reithinger, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the RTI International, has stated that it is “probably too early to tell” if the virus’s symptom set has truly shifted. Conjunctivitis has been reported as a Covid symptom before, but more research is needed to determine whether the Arcturus variant is associated with a higher incidence of this symptom.
TRANSMISSION AND RESISTANCE TO ANTIBODIES
The Arcturus variant is highly transmissible and is spreading rapidly in several countries. According to a preprint study from scientists at the University of Tokyo, the variant spreads about 1.17 to 1.27 times more efficiently than its relatives XBB.1 and XBB.1.5. Additionally, the Arcturus variant appears to be robustly resistant to antibodies from other Covid variants, making it more challenging to combat.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared XBB.1.16 a “variant under monitoring” since late March, saying that it is one to watch. Maria Van Kerkhove, Covid technical lead for the WHO, has stated that the Arcturus variant is the most transmissible variant yet, making it a cause for concern. The WHO is working closely with health officials globally to monitor the spread of the variant and take necessary steps to prevent its transmission.
EVOLUTION OF NEW VARIANTS
Raj Rajnarayanan, assistant dean of research and associate professor at the New York Institute of Technology, has warned that the Arcturus variant and its descendants have “the oomph to outcompete” other Covid variants. He says that new variants evolve quickly, making it critical to monitor their spread and take necessary precautions to prevent their transmission. As the virus continues to evolve, health officials will need to adapt and respond quickly to new variants to prevent their spread.
The emergence of the Arcturus Covid variant highlights the ongoing challenge of the pandemic and the need for continued vigilance and adherence to public health guidelines. Health officials must continue to monitor the situation closely and take necessary measures to mitigate the impact of the Arcturus variant and other emerging variants. The rapid evolution of new variants emphasizes the importance of ongoing research and a coordinated global response to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
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