The Arcturus variant of COVID-19, also known as the XBB.1.16 strain, has been spreading rapidly worldwide and detected in 34 countries. This new variant is believed to be 1.2 times more infectious than previous subvariants and has been prevalent in India and all four nations of the United Kingdom.
Arcturus was first discovered in January and was assigned as a "variant of interest" by the World Health Organization in mid-April due to its unique traits, including a mutant spike protein that increases its contingency.
Despite its increased infectivity, no evidence suggests that Arcturus causes more severe illness or has reduced vaccination effectiveness. However, individuals infected with this variant may experience conjunctivitis, characterized by redness and eye inflammation, along with other common COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, fever, fatigue, diarrhea, sore throat, shortness of breath, and headache. Conjunctivitis typically resolves on its own but may sometimes require antiviral medication.
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