Did the Covid-19 Arcturus Variant emerge in India?

A new variant of Covid-19, named Arcturus, has come to light and is responsible for a surge in infections in India.

Did the Covid-19 Arcturus Variant emerge in India f


Arcturus has been detected in 22 countries so far

A new Covid-19 strain, known as Arcturus or Omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, has emerged in India and has appeared in other countries across the world.

This new variant has raised concerns that it could cause a new wave of infections.

According to research, Arcturus might be 1.2 times more infectious than the last major subvariant.

In the UK, the new Arcturus variant has killed five people so far.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been monitoring Arcturus since March 22, 2023.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for Covid-19, has stated that although there hasn’t been a change in the severity of infections caused by this variant, it has one additional mutation in the spike protein, which lab studies have shown increased infectivity as well as potential increased pathogenicity.

This subvariant is one of 600 that have emerged from Omicron so far, but it appears to be no more lethal than others.

Arcturus has been detected in 22 countries so far, including the UK and US.

India has been hit hard by the new strain, with a reported 40,215 active Covid cases on April 12, up by 3,122 in just one day.

The country’s health ministry has responded by introducing compulsory face masks in some states, carrying out mock drills in hospitals and ramping up vaccine production.

Arcturus’ symptoms include a high fever, a cough, and “itchy” conjunctivitis, according to Dr Vipin Vashishtha, a paediatrician and former head of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Immunisation.

Although around 50 cases of Arcturus have been detected in the UK so far, it is too soon to predict whether the country will face a fresh surge in infections.

Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia believes that while we may see a wave of infections with this variant, it is unlikely to cause a big wave, probably not even as great as the one the UK previously had, and so probably won’t put as great pressure on health services as recently.

Professor Hunter was referring to the Kraken strain of Covid-19.

Scientists at the University of Tokyo have compared the Kraken and Arcturus subvariants and suggested that the newer strain spreads about 1.17 to 1.27 times more efficiently than its relative.

They have warned that it “will spread worldwide soon” aided by the fact that it seems “robustly resistant” to antibodies lingering in the body from previous Covid infections.

Virologist Professor Lawrence Young, of the University of Warwick, has cautioned that the rise of the new variant in India is a sign that “we’re not yet out of the woods”.

Ilsa is a digital marketeer and journalist. Her interests include politics, literature, religion and football. Her motto is “Give people their flowers whilst they’re still around to smell them.”

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