The Omicron version of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, swiftly surpassed all other varieties. It has since evolved and acquired new mutations. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has continued to monitor these variants and categorise them as variants under surveillance, variants of interest, or variants of concern. Only the most serious possible threats’ variations will be given proper names.
Many new variant names will reflect their position as recombinants, in which two viruses’ genetic material has been merged. The letter X at the beginning of a variant denotes a recombinant genome, and the letter after that simply follows alphabetical order. As a result, we got varieties like XA and XB; as researchers progressed through the alphabet, the letters doubled up, resulting in names like XBB.
Some individuals dislike the confusion caused by some of these names, thus a few nicknames have been assigned to make it easier to discuss them. Experts who watch the evolution of variants, for example, dubbed the XBB.1.5 subvariant Kraken.
Now, a new subvariant of Omicron has developed, creating alarm in some circles. Trackers have called this virus Arcturus. Cases have risen quickly in India, despite the fact that the virus’s prevalence is declining globally.
The World Health Organization’s Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove has stated that XBB.1.16 is currently being closely monitored. Researchers discovered that it had one additional mutation in the viral spike protein than the XBB.1.15 version. This mutation has rendered the variation more infectious in the laboratory.
A novel symptom connected with XBB.1.16/Arcturus may also exist. Many children in India are becoming unwell, with symptoms including a cough, high fever, and an eye irritation known as conjunctivitis, or pink eye. At this time, it does not appear that the instances are any more serious than those produced by prior versions.
There are currently many anecdotal reports of paediatric conjunctivitis in India, according to variation tracker Raj Rajnarayanan, assistant dean of research and associate professor at the New York Institute of Technology.
As of April 12, India has 40,215 active coronavirus cases; 7,830 additional cases were confirmed between Tuesday and Wednesday. Other variations in India were quickly supplanted by XBB.1.16/Arcturus.
According to a pre-print published on bioRxiv, XBB.1.16/Arcturus can also withstand the effects of numerous antibodies that operate against SARS-CoV-2, and it may be more capable of replicating than other Omicron variations. According to the experts, this variation might quickly spread over the planet.
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