What is Arcturus COVID variant? || A new variant of covid-19 ||

Arcturus: what do we know about the new variant of covid-19?

A new variant of covid-19 responsible for a surge of infections in India has raised fears that it could also lead to a surge in cases in the UK.

Research indicates that Arcturus could be 1.2 times more infectious than the last major subvariant.

Also known as omicron subvariant XBB.1.16, the strain was first identified in January and has been monitored by the WHO (World Health Organization) since March 22.

Addressing the emergence of Arcturus at a press conference on March 29, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for covid-19 issues, said: "It's been around for a few months now."

“We haven't seen a change in severity in people or in populations, but that's why we have these systems. It has an additional mutation in the spike protein that, in laboratory studies, shows increased ineffectiveness as well as possible increased pathogenicity."

The subvariant, one of 600 generated by omicron so far but apparently no more lethal than others, has already been detected in 22 countries so far, including the UK and US.

In India, the country's health ministry reported 40,215 active cases of Covid-19 on April 12, an increase of 3,122 in just one day, prompting mandatory face coverings to be introduced in some states, hospitals to carry out drills and intensified the production of vaccines.

India was devastated by the delta wave in 2021 and suffered total excess deaths of 4.7 million, according to WHO estimates.

Dr. Vipin Vashishtha, a pediatrician and former head of the Immunization Committee of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics, told The Hindustan Times that symptoms of Arcturus include high fever, cough and "itchy" conjunctivitis.

Around 50 cases have been detected in the UK so far, according to The Daily Mail, but Professor Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia told the paper it was too early to tell whether Britain could face a further rise in Arcturus-driven infections.

"Although in India it has spread in recent weeks, so far it has not increased rapidly globally," said Professor Hunter.

"I suspect we'll see a wave of infections with this variant, but I doubt it's going to be a big one, probably not even as big as what we've just had in the UK, so it's probably not wise to put more pressure on health services." health".

The professor was alluding to the Kraken strain of covid-19, also known as XBB.1.5, which was the dominant form of the disease in Britain until February.

Scientists at the University of Tokyo who compared subvariants of Kraken and Arcturus suggested that the newer strain spreads between 1.17 and 1.27 times more efficiently than its relative. In addition, they warned that it "will spread throughout the world in the near future" helped by the fact that it appears "strongly resistant" to lingering antibodies in the body from previous covid-19 infections.

Virologist Professor Lawrence Young from the University of Warwick told The Independent that the emergence of the new variant in India is a sign that "we are not out of the woods yet."

“We have to keep an eye on her,” he said. "When a new variant emerges, you have to find out if: it is more infectious, more disease-causing, more pathogenic, and what will happen in terms of immune protection."

“Things like this highlight the importance of genomic surveillance, but many countries, including ours, have let their guard down a bit and we can't be sure what variants exist and what level of infection they are causing until we see a significant outbreak.” .

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